13 December 2010

Book Review: Walking Back to Happiness by Lucy Dillon

Juliet is hiding away again. It wasn't even a  year ago that she lost her beloved husband Ben to a young and tragic death, and Juliet just wants to shut the world out and go about her grieving in her own way. However, her mother Diane and sister Louise have different ideas about what Juliet needs, and manages to get her a job as the neighbourhood's unofficial dog-walker. Reluctantly, Juliet agrees, and finds that the fresh air and dogs are all she needs to finally start coming out of her shell. She's sure it doesn't mean she is ready to start talking to people again, let alone about her lovely Ben, but she's more open to getting out, and even speaking to her mad Irish next door neighbours Emer and Lorcan. Will Juliet find her own way back to happiness or is her life destined to be one long, lonely road?

This is Lucy Dillon's third novel, and she is certainly one author who seems to be getting better with every book. Her last title, Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts which I really enjoyed, won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2010, and while I think that was deserving, I would say that this book also deserves that title! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I think it certainly adds to the books appeal, especially at this wintery time of year. It seems that dogs are pretty important to Dillon as its her second book in a row to feature them, so canine book fans will undoubtedly be looking out for this one too.

The book begins with the character of Juliet grieving over the sudden death of her young husband Ben. Juliet therefore isn't the happiest character, but you can understand why and I think it's important for the reader to get that connection with her straight away as you are meant to sympathise with her story and also feel like you want everything to work out for her in the end too. You can feel her pain through Dillon's writing, she really does put across Juliet's raw emotion perfectly, and I really did feel for poor Juliet. It was nice to see her develop as the book progresses, you can see the change in her because of the people around her, and it shows what people can really do to help other people  out when they need it.

However, whilst there is all this sorrow for Juliet going on, there is quite a bit of humour throughout the book which keeps the tone quite light and stops the book getting too bogged down. Juliet's mother Diane is such a typically interfering mother, she means well of course but you see why Juliet gets annoyed with her! She's very nosy in her daughter's life and helps her become a dog walker. Diane's scenes with her dog Coco are hilarious because she treats her like a little girl, not a dog, and it is funny to read. There are some pretty touching scenes with Juliet and her parents towards the end of the book, and these were a joy to read, I loved them and found them very tear-jerking and perfectly fitted in with the book.

As well as Juliet's recovery story, we do have another serious storyline involving Juliet's sister Louise. We can see everything isn't perfect for the new mother who is struggling in her marriage to Peter, especially knowing that her sister lost her husband young, she feels more pressure to make her marriage work. There are more secrets that come out as the story moves on, some of which I didn't see coming at all which was really good, I like that Dillon managed to keep these things from us because it kept the book fresh as I was reading, and it made me so curious to keep reading and find out what was happening. Louise's story is quite emotional, and I am sure quite a lot of people will be able to relate to it, and I think Dillon handled the plot sensitively and with real tact.

The book is very emotional - it follows several people all determined to make a change for the better in their lives, and because of that it is a very uplifting book. I found myself smiling a lot as I read it, and there were a good few tear-jerking moments as well that had me welling up with emotion, but in a good way. The book was a joy to read from start to finish, and I really felt like I had been on a real journey with these characters, especially Juliet. Her budding friendship with the wonderful Lorcan was brilliant to read, and I was willing the pair of them to open their eyes to what was in front of them! The story handled loss, sorrow and moving on really well and is a truly uplifting and amazing read. I loved every single page.

Rating: 5/5


  1. I would like to read this one.I've just read Amy Silver's new one and loved that.
    Very jealous that Leah is reading the new Gemma Burgess book I can't wait,can you give us some hints is it as good as her first?

  2. I'm on page 193 and so far I absolutely love this book. Can't wait to get home from work, cuddle up with my dog on the sofa and continue reading. xx

  3. Great review. Makes me want to speed up reading the book I'm currently reading and get started on this one which I bought at the weekend.

  4. Lucy does it once again! Loved this book as much as her first 'Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts'! Would definately recommend this writer to all my friends!