1 April 2014

Book Review: A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

"Letters from the only man she's ever loved.

A keepsake of the father she never knew.

Or just a beautiful glass vase that catches the light, even on a grey day.

If you had the chance to make a fresh start, what would you keep from your old life? What would you give away?

Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a difficult few years she'd rather forget. But the belongings she's treasured for so long just don't seem to fit who she is now.

So Gina makes a resolution. She'll keep just a hundred special items - the rest can go.

But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring . . "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy A Hundred Pieces of Me as a paperback or an eBook now.

I am a huge fan of Lucy Dillon's books, and was over the moon to be sent a gorgeous review copy of her brand new novel A Hundred Pieces of Me.  Just from the sound of the blurb, you can see that this is going to be an emotional novel, but even I was surprised by how much this book touched me, and really made me think about my own life, which 100 things I would save that I feel would define me as a person. As I read this novel, I lost myself in Gina's story and could not put it down, it's a stunning read and one that will stay me for a long, long time.

Gina Bellamy feels like the rug has been pulled out from under her feet over the past few years, and she's fed up of feeling miserable. She's gotten over illness, seen her marriage crumble, and had to leave her beloved home that she spent years decorating. But now she's moved all those things into her new flat, she doesn't feel like many of the pieces belong with the new Gina Bellamy anymore. So, she sets about sorting out 100 things that she thinks she can keep, 100 things special and dear to her that she can't bear to lose. But when she's searching through these items, Gina is reminded of some of the tough times she's had to face, and an uncertain future ahead of her as well.

I don't really want to spoil this book by telling you what's happened to Gina in her past, because part of the journey of this book is the discovery of Gina's story, and how things have changed her as a person. Suffice to say, it's a very emotional read in parts, with Gina telling us through flashbacks exactly what she has been through, the effect it had on her relationship with her husband and her mother, and how it's even affecting her life in the present day, although she feels she can move ahead. The way Dillon is able to weave the sadness of Gina's situation with her hope, and her will to carry on living her life is amazing, and was a truly inspirational read.

I really enjoyed reading about Gina, and I felt she was a character I could totally get behind and support. There was nothing dislikeable about her at all, she was very strong and brave considering what she had been through, and the way she has picked herself up and has carried on with life is quite inspirational - I'm quite sure I would have fallen apart if that were me. The relationship she has with her best friend Naomi is so touching and beautiful - friends who are truly there for each other through thick and thin. The way the women are so open with each other, caring and kind is wonderful to read, a true friendship. Gina has a fantastic relationship with Naomi's husband and daughter too, another element of the story I loved.

As well as being about Gina's life, her moving on story and finding those 100 pieces of her, the book also delves into Gina's life at work, and tells the tale of her helping to renovate an old house, one she once dreamed of owning before life steered her on a totally different course. While houses and renovations aren't normally something that would interest me, it did in the case of this book, and I longed for the parts where Gina would pay yet another visit to the old home, and we could discover more of it's secrets. There, she meets homeowner Nick, who she suspects may not be as happy in his rather strange marriage as he makes out. Another part of the book that touched me hugely was her relationship with her new found pet Buzz, a sweet yet troubled dog who helps Gina in ways she didn't think possible. Very emotional and poignant.

This book was stunning from start to finish, and I felt sad to be leaving Gina and her world behind as I turned the final page on her story. It's a life-affirming story of how we may gather all these possessions, but what truly matters is love, family, and a few treasured things that we cannot live without. Gina is forced to take a fresh look at her life, and her matter of fact attitude about things is one I can admire - I would really struggle to cut my belongings down to just 100 things that meant something to me, I think I have a lot, lot more than that. Told through flashbacks and memories, it's a brilliantly written look at a woman's life who has a lot to bear in such a short time on this planet. This is a truly wonderful book that I can definitely recommend you read, it's thought-provoking and really makes you grateful for the life you have. Beautiful.

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