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 ….