Shhh…it’s a secret…

Hey there you, blog adventurer!

How is your March going? We’ve officially hit SPRING and I for one am so happy about this! I can now finally walk to work rather than take the car, the sun is shining for longer in the daytime, and we all know what spring means… BABY ANIMALS!

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Spring and Summer seasons in the UK are my absolute favourite times of year. We’re coming out of the depths of hell winter , and we can finally begin to bask in the sunshine, sunglasses perfectly poised on our heads or our noses, yet it’s still perfectly acceptable to eat pie.

Ahh, a happy life.

So, as we go into the happy, cute and sunny time of year, it seems ever so fitting that the next Title to have graced my bookshelf this month, is Lucy Diamond’s ‘The Secrets of Happiness’. Now I am an absolute fan of Lucy’s work, having read ‘Summer at Shell Cottage’ and ‘One Night in Italy’ so kind of knew what to expect. Lucy is a writer that makes you feel warm, fuzzy, sad and heartbroken but also has the magic to make you burst out laughing through the pages. Her novels are generally based around Love, self discovery and family topics, something we can all connect to, no matter what our circumstances or background.

In a lovely green ‘spring like’ cover, here we begin the review of ‘The Secrets of Happiness’,  by Lucy Diamond.

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And where else to begin to read this novel, but in my very own place of Happiness. My Bed.

‘A Brand New Life….Can be just around the corner’

A captivating line on the front cover, embossed gold lettering and a pretty and cute drawing on the front. Sounds and looks interesting, and a good thick book that you know will keep you occupied for the weekend/trip/holiday.

The story centralises around two step sisters, Rachel and Becca. Becca is a bit of a loose cannon, working to make ends meet, sharing with a flatmate, no love on the horizon and not much of a future ahead of her, but with a good relationship with her Mum.

Rachel lives further away from the family, with three children for company. A career women, divorcee, independent and entrepreneurial, the two sisters couldnt be further worlds apart. Feeling slightly estranged from her sister and her step mother and who’s father has sadly passed, the novel begins with Rachel on the hunt for some answers.

On Rachel’s quest to uncover a whisper of mystery about her birth Mother, Rachel takes an unexpected turn. Here, Becca is called upon to fill Rachel’s shoes as the children need her. From living care free with little to no responsibilities, Becca now finds herself running a household, with 3 Children of differing ages and problems, to feed, clothe and get to school on time, whilst trying to hunt down her sister, keep out the neighbourhood watch team from Rachel’s business, trying to understand what the hell is going on with her sister, and trying her utmost to keep Rachel’s business going in her absence. Without being anywhere near equipped or skilled for the job. Haha! What can go wrong?!…..

Only upon beginning to live life as Rachel, does Becca truly begin to understand her sister. The walls of ‘perfect’ Rachel are taken down brick by brick. Rachel returns home to find her irresponsible sister actually doing a pretty good job of running her life (well, for the most part!). Rachel  has no option but to rest and recover, to take a backwards seat from her busy life and focus on herself and her children.

Becca on the other hand immerses herself in Rachel’s work, helping others to achieve their goals. In doing so she meets people from all walks of life. Some are lonely, looking for companionship, others are looking to hit goals, and some just appear from the outset to be utter arseholes. On this road of self discovery, Becca uncovers her own understanding of her future, her goals, and where her talents lie. Via stepping into Rachel’s world for a moment, she begins to understand her strengths, her passion and her true root to happiness.

Rachel, seeing Becca’s love for her nieces and nephew, her kindness, unconditional love and appreciative of her help, begins to warm to Becca once again. An ‘elephant in the room’ sized family dispute is settled in the most hilarious ‘GIRL POWER’ kind of way, and the girls become close again.

The novel ends in a very heart felt and warming way. Becca is on the pursuit of happiness, in love, self fulfillment and career. Rachel rebonds with her life, her step sister, step mother,  settles disputes and is a much happier person as a result of Becca’s time spent in her home.

Rachel life seems perfect, but it is far from it and she has a lot to learn about letting go a little. Becca’s life and ideas are completely whacky and without focus, but it it is that same creativity and open mindedness that leads her to success.

This novel is one with themes of understanding, compassion and empathy. We learn only by role reversal the true nature of the other’s life and situations. It teaches us to think a little further outside of the box, and perhaps not judge the ‘front cover’ of people’s lives so much. There is a great deal of exposure at the moment on social media, of people showing their ‘true selves’,  in contrast to their ‘social media’ portrayals. Personally, I think this book ties in with similar themes and so is very current with on going social topics. It teaches us not to judge from face value, and consider true realities and look for the best in everyone.

This book is well written, it is warming and deals with every day topics. However in comparison to the last novel I reviewed (Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum) you could argue that the themes are shallow and not that hard- hitting. The characters are likeable, fairly warm and the book has great laughs, not great groans of despair.

However, after reading a book such as Hausfrau, sometimes, laughter and a nice ending is exactly what you need. Lucy’s books are easy readers, relatable and damn right funny, she writes with great wit, empathy and stirs emotions well.

My criticism however is that I do think the ending was rather predictable, which, as a lover of plot twists and cliff hangers, is a bit of a shame.

To conclude, if you are looking for a girly, heart felt, feel good book filled with laughter, this is definitely one to select from the shelf. If I am in need of a good giggle, I always pick a book of Lucy’s. I must argue though, that for me, I much preferred ‘Summer at Shell cottage’, this novel was not a stand out performance in my opinion and I did feel slightly let down by its predictability. But even so, let’s face it, who doesnt need a heart warming good giggle every now and then!?

Can’t put it down rating: 2/5

Funny, family orientated, heart warming themes. However it is predictable and very similar to her other novels, therefore it does not stand out against her other work for me. I much preferred Summer at Shell Cottage.

Published: 28th January 2016
RRP (Paperback): £7.99
Wordery: £10.99 (Hardback)
Amazon: £6.49 (Paperback)

Washed down with:

So, this month I decided to crack open a Christmas selection box from the English Tea Shop I had received as a gift this Christmas. And whilst it is most unseasonal for me to be sipping Christmas tea in spring, I couldn’t help but pair my book entitled ‘The Secrets of Happiness’ with a cup of ‘Happy Holiday’! (I know, living on the edge, right?)

A fruity tea, that reminds you of Christmas, full bellies, elasticated waist bands and too much chocolate. I LOVE it. Next Christmas, make sure to put this on your Christmas list! (Or if you cant wait that long, link is below).

The English Tea Shop is manufactured in Sri Lanka and is a very good quality tea with full bodied flavours.

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(And of course it’s Organic and all that lovely stuff).

Taste Rating: 4.5/5

You can purchase the English Tea Shop Blue Christmas Tray out of season from Healthy-foods online, for a ravishing £8.19, just click here

As always, please let me know your feedback either via email on the contact page, or you can follow me on Instagram and let me know your thoughts! IG: veryprettylittlethings

Looking forward to getting to know you!

NEXT MONTH’S READ…MAESTRA BY LISA HILTON.

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