08/05/2018

The Year of Taking Chances (by Lucy Diamond)

It’s nearly three years since I first read one of Lucy Diamond’s books, after a recommendation from Amazon. I liked it sufficiently to add a couple more of her books to my wishlist… and enjoyed them too. Gradually I’ve acquired more, and was delighted to be given ‘The Year of Taking Chances’ last Christmas. I have quite a lengthy to-be-read shelf, and I intersperse old favourites with new books, so it’s taken me a few months to reach it.

This book takes place over the first six months or so of a year, following the lives of three women who meet almost by chance at a New Year’s Eve party. Gemma is the hostess; she’s happily married to Spencer, and they have two children: Will is thirteen, Darcy nine. They’ve recently bought a lovely house which somewhat stretched their finances, and it’s ideal for entertaining. Will is becoming a tad hormonal, and Darcy’s a typical bright pre-teen, but basically they’re contented together, with Gemma a full-time homemaker and mother.

The other two women are Caitlin and Saffron. I kept having to backtrack to remember which was which as I could not distinguish them in my mind. One of them (I think Caitlin) has moved to the area following the death of her mother, and the break-up of a relationship. The other (probably Saffron) has rented the house next-door to Gemma’s while she thinks over something unexpected that has happened, that affects another relationship. One of them works for a PR company and the other is a web designer… but the two seem to have very similar personalities.

These three women open fortune cookies and decide that this new year is a time for branching out and taking chances. Gemma has no idea that her family situation is about to take a potentially tragic downturn in a few weeks (although the prologue has warned us of a pending disaster). Caitlin is about to discover something that will shock her deeply. And Saffron has to deal not only with her recent discovery, but with an over-demanding client and an increasingly suspicious boss.

The book switches viewpoint each chapter, giving insights into each of their lives, leading up to the inevitable point when they meet in other circumstances and find themselves increasingly drawn together. I found it hard to keep track of their various family members and friends, most of whom seemed either shadowy or caricatured. I liked Gemma’s father, however, and was quite fond of her children, too. I could identify most with Gemma, and thought her a believable, three dimensional person, even if her change in circumstances, later in the book, happens with startling rapidity.

That sounds a bit negative, but overall I liked this book very much. There are some serious issues touched upon including forms of depression, infertility, possibly dangerous pregnancy tests, and how to deal with feeling that one’s life has been built on a lie. There’s a tad more bad language than I’m comfortable with, but thankfully Lucy Diamond avoids descriptions of intimate scenes.

Overall, notwithstanding the sometimes complex problems encountered, it’s a light read, written somewhat informally. It has a satisfying ending that ties up most of the threads in positive ways, if perhaps a little too neatly, and I found it enjoyable and encouraging.

Recommended, if you like relationship-based modern women’s fiction.

Review by copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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