It’s New Year’s Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There’s music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It’s going to be a night to remember.
Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum’s house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who’s keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma’s dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.
But as the months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home – all the things they’ve taken for granted are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?
The Year Of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond was published in paperback by Pan on 1 January, and has been available for kindle since mid-December. I’ve become an unashamed fan of Lucy Diamond’s books – you’ll find reviews of Christmas At The Beach Cafe (a short) and One Night In Italy elsewhere on the blog. I chose to make this one my first read of 2015, and couldn’t have chosen anything more perfect.
The novel starts on New Year’s Eve and the scene is set. Lucy Diamond has a wonderful talent for introducing you to a set of characters who you then live with until you reach the last page: they become your very best friends for as long as you’re reading, and you really don’t want to say goodbye to them when you reach the end.
Gemma is the party’s hostess – “just a mum”, a little stretched financially by their recent house move, blissfully happy in her marriage to Spencer. Caitlin has just lost her mother, is just out of a toxic relationship, could badly do with a makeover (and a kick up the backside), and really has no idea what the future holds. Saffron’s life is a bit of a mess, she has a really difficult situation to confront,: she attends the party, while staying at a holiday let nearby, having taken a break from her high-powered life in PR to have some time to think – that’s if her most demanding client Bunty will leave her alone.
This is a wonderful story, all about knowing what’s important, friendships, love, families – but above all, a thoroughly excellent read. The author throws in a few spanners, and the story – which is really three interconnecting stories about the lives of the three main characters – plays out as they live their lives before you. The supporting cast is wonderful too – the men in their lives (or the ones they’d like to be), larger than life Bunty, even errant landlord Bernie with the eye for the voluptuous woman. Lucy Diamond has a wonderful talent – the ability to write a well plotted and believable story, but also to flesh it out with characters that involve you, entertain you, but also make you cry. Despite some of the serious issues the characters encounter, I love a book that can also make you smile, laugh, root for the characters and feel a real emotional connection – I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My thanks to publishers Macmillan for my advance reading copy.
Lucy Diamond is actually called Sue Mongredien. She was born in 1970 and grew up in Nottingham. After reading English at Leeds University she moved to London and worked for various publishers before packing it all in to go travelling around the world for a year and a half. When she came back to the UK, she worked in publishing again, then moved to the BBC. She now lives in Bath with her husband and three young children and divides her time between writing and looking after them. Her favourite things are beaches, holidays, chocolate, wine, reading, Green Wing, bubble baths, sunshine, hearing her children laugh, and babysitters.