Lucy Dillon writes lovely books: she’s a wonderful storyteller with the lightest of touches, but her stories always have just enough serious underpinnings to stop them drifting off into the ether ….
‘A Hundred Pieces of Me’ is particularly lovely, and a little different to the books that came before.
It’s Gina’s story. Her passage through life hadn’t been straightforward, but she knew that she’d been lucky; she’d survived breast cancer, she had a wonderful husband who had supported her, they had a lovely home, and they had a wonderful future in front of them.
And then he left her.
There were tears, there were recriminations, but ultimately Gina knew that she had to pick herself up and get on with the life that she knew was so precious.
She found a lovely new flat and she vowed to clear out all of the ‘things’ that she had acquired over the years and live a simpler life: she would keep just one hundred things that would help her to hang on to memories.
Picking out those one hundred things brought back so many emotions – happy and sad – and there were so many things to remember, as Gina worked out what she must hold on to and what she should let go.
It was fascinating to watch, and impossible not to think about what we keep, why we keep it, what it says about us ….
There was a new future to forge too: a new job meant that she had to work with the new owners of a wonderful house that was her own dream home, and, quite unintentionally, she came to share her new home with a dog.
Gina didn’t quite complete her list, because it gave way to an even lovelier idea: a new friend gave Gina a polaroid camera, and he planted the idea that she might photograph one hundred things that would make new memories.
I rather missed the hundred things, but that shift provided the time and space that were needed for the story to come together. It was very clever, gradually revealing what had happened to Gina’s first love, why her relationship with her mother was so strained, and what consequences on her illness had, not just for her, but for her friends and family as well.
The story is so touching, so poignant; with happiness and sadness beautifully balanced,
I particularly loved Gina’s relationship with her best friend, Naomi, who supported her and who needed her in her life. I was so pleased when Gina and her mother finally came to talk about the things that really mattered, and to understand herself a little better. And the way that a dog inveigled its way first into Gina’s life and then into her heart, turning her into a dog-person, was utterly perfect.
‘A Hundred Pieces of me’ is a beautifully written story about letting go of the past, about not worrying about the future, and about loving life in the here and now.
I can’t deny that it was a little contrived, that one or two things fell into place a little too easily, but I can forgive that because all of the characters, all of the relationships ring true, and they caught – and inspired – so many emotions.
And because Gina learned and grew so much over the course of the story.
When the end came I didn’t want to let go: and it wasn’t really an end, but another turning point in Gina’s life.
So now all I can do is wish her well ….
It sounds like an emotional, yet beautiful read Fleur. Thanks for another great review.
This sounds lovely and speaks to me. I have this huge collection of my later mother’s things and can’t let go. The other day I thought that I should just make a photo of every piece and then let go of it.
Thanks for reviewing this. I wasn’t even familiar with the author.
Late mother, not later, of course.
Thanks for a lovely review.
Sounds like a beautiful read. thanks for the post. I’m particularly interested in some of the ideas you suggest this book covers – memories are important, but stuff isn’t. I love the idea of taking photo’s of special things and telling your own story. thanks for mentioning it.
This sounds like a lovely book. I liked it when you mentioned its being balanced in its happiness and sadness; sounds true to life.
Thanks for the beautiful review :).
I like the sound of this novel a lot Fleur. It sounds like it deals with important life issues but does it delicately. Thanks for another perceptive review.
This sounds lovely, Fleur. I saw Dilllon’s books in Waterstones yesterday and was wondering whether to look at them. I certainly will, now 🙂