Ever so subtle is the hint of Autumn on the air, an expectant waiting for the leaves to turn and the sunsets to happen a little earlier. What better time to start stockpiling up some engaging women’s fiction to cosy up with in the coming months. If, like me, you can’t help but enjoy a happy ending, then The Secrets of Happiness, by English author Lucy Diamond, is just the book to add to that pile.
Rachel and Becca are stepsisters who know very little about each other’s lives. They have never been close, haven’t spoken in a very long time and have nothing in common. Then Becca gets a call one night asking for her help – Rachel hasn’t come home. Leaving her dead-end job in her wake she packs an overnight bag and heads out to be with her nieces and nephew.
While waiting for her return, Becca discovers that Rachel’s life is not as perfect as it seemed. As she spends time away from her usual life, she also starts facing some home truths about her own future. Sometimes, though, things work out just as they should, and happiness can be just around the corner.
The Secrets of Happiness was my unexpected bit of happiness around the corner. This was an engaging read, but not because of any intense or pacey plot. Yes, there was anticipation about how things would resolve, even if these resolutions were a little predictable. There was also an air of mystery created as I wondered why Rachel was in Manchester and what the story behind her mother was. There was good pacing in this novel, with new threads being introduced early enough to keep you wondering, and plenty of time was given to closing the novel in a natural and unforced way.
That, I think, is what kept me turning the pages: the narrative feels completely natural and unforced. There is a real plausibility to the story, with nothing too out of reach for me or you. Yet, as I read the book I could still feel the little quirks of the writer’s imagination coming through on the page.
The downside for me was Becca. Unfortunately, she rather annoyed me, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. My guess? Maybe a bit of a personality clash (who knew one could have these with fictional characters?). I could feel that she was well-meaning, but some of her dialogue and ways just bothered me a little. Rachel’s children, on the other hand, I quite adored, even the moody, slightly dysfunctional Mabel. Their unique characters shone through and they were painted vividly in my mind.
This is a book for fans of Jojo Moyes, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde. The Secrets of Happiness is an easy, light-hearted read about family and the bond between sisters. A good choice for a relaxing weekend in.