Saturday, 24 December 2016

Book Review - All I Ever Wanted by Lucy Dillon

Amazon UK
Title: All I Ever Wanted
Author: Lucy Dillon
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 1st December 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

Caitlin's life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.

Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.

Nancy's Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.

But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages - and about what they both really want . . .

What a wonderfully heart warming and loving story, about one family, as they are going through a tough patch.

When Patrick accepts a job in Newcastle, Caitlin refuses to uproot their children to move up there with him. For Patrick this signifies that it is time to move on and they split up.  Caitlin around this time starts to see her husband in a new light, and he really doesn't come across that well in the early part of the book. 

Joel is 10 and loves acting, he is very talkative and is a wonderful big brother. Nancy is almost five, but once her dad moves out, she stops speaking. It's a heart breaking problem and although they are fairly sure it is stress related, noone seems to know the best way to get her talking again. She used to by all accounts be a happy go lucky child, always singing and dancing along with Joel, so its very noticeable how quiet she is now. 

Thankfully Nancy will still communicate just without words, so can get her feelings and some of her thoughts across, and I think if anyone is having a similar dilemma with their own child may take a bit of comfort from this story.

Caitlin arranges for the kids to see Patrick at weekends at their aunt Eva's house. Eva is the other main focus of the book, she is recently widowed, childless and has barely had anything to do with her young niece and nephew, but she lives a reasonable distance away from the husband and wife. 

As much as Nancy is the main focus of a lot of the book, I loved hearing more about Eva's relationship with her beloved Mick., and the question as to whether his memoirs should be published or not. I also enjoyed seeing Eva's relationship with Joel and Nancy develop over time. 

I regularly state that my favourite Lucy Dillon books feature dogs, and so I was delighted to meet Bumble and Bee, Eva's pugs. They are small and cute, and play a steady role throughout the book, but more importantly they are key in quite a few of the largest, most important scenes in the book. 

Caitlin loves getting a bit of freedom, and Eva also has a new acquaintance who I was hoping things would develop with, however Patrick is always very quick to criticise if anything goes wrong.  And of course there are some "situations" involving the children that are quite funny, and definitely memorable, one including a bath, and one including some errant animals in a back garden! 

I found All I Ever Wanted to be an engaging look at one couple's family dynamics along with their aunt, Caitlin's mum who drives her slightly mad and of course the pugs, as they navigate the problems caused by a separation. I found it sympathetic to Nancy's plight and I spent a large amount of the book really rooting for her, and hoping things would change. I felt involved with the story at all times, which was easy to follow and very enjoyable to read. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Hodder for this copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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