I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog blitz and sharing my review of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer, published for kindle by Avon Books on 10th January, available through Amazon in the UK and US, with the paperback to follow on 21st March. My thanks to the publisher and tour organiser Rachel’s Random Resources for my advance reading e-copy, downloaded from netgalley.
Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours and unlikely friends.
Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.
79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away for ever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.
Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…
The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker will be the most charming, heart-warming and feel-good novel you will read this year, perfect for fans of Ruth Hogan and Gail Honeyman.
I’ll admit I’ve tended to avoid books that feature a dementia story-line recently – for obvious personal reasons – but I must say that this lovely book dealt with the whole subject quite perfectly, with absolute authenticity but a very light touch. The friendship between Brenda and Lucy is just beautiful – Brenda needing love and care as she slowly loses her grasp, Lucy needing support and strength of a rather different kind. I do sometimes tend to avoid books that focus on the workplace too, and the toy distributor where Lucy works does feature quite a lot – but I really enjoyed the characters it introduced (particularly Adam with his political incorrectness and mangling of language, and the horrendous Darren). But I just loved the whole story – socially awkward but drop-dead gorgeous George, the touch of magic with the locket, Scratbag the stray cat, Lucy’s friendships and family (especially her rather demanding mother). Yes, I even loved the knitting – the whole idea of creating the knitted characters (Poldark a speciality…) and setting up a website to sell them…
There might not be that many surprises around the direction the story takes, but it’s immensely enjoyable – I just loved all the stumbles and misunderstandings along the way, and the way Lucy’s confidence grew (with or without magic), along with her changes in fortune. And I was really particularly impressed by the characterisation, the major and minor characters – George might be just a tad wooden, but I really enjoyed seeing his soft edges revealed, and Lucy herself has a complexity and warmth rarely seen in a 25 year old heroine, winning your heart with every new development. And there’s a perfect balance between the comedy – the whole book is very funny, with immense warmth – and those moments that tear at your heart. I laughed a lot, but there were copious – and real – tears too.
I’m incredibly impressed that this was a first novel from the author – the writing is very accomplished, and I’ll really look forward to seeing what Jenni Keer does next. I loved this one.
With thanks to Jenni and Rachel, it’s a pleasure to offer the chance to win a set of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker goodies (UK only): the prize contains Thornton’s fudge, a Nu notebook, a Hopes and Dreams bookmark and a set of five Scratbag blank greetings cards designed by Jenni Keer. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.