I want to blog about Lucy Dillon’s latest book, Unexpected Lessons in Love, because I feel it’s hard for writers who are not first-timers (everyone loves a debut), are not writing a book with a significant number attached to it, the writer isn’t particularly young, or old, or anything. They've just written consistently great books for years.
As authors we all get books sent to us through the post. Sometimes people ask first but quite often they just arrive. Depending where we are in our writing schedules this can make the heart sink. Guilt, irritation, and plain tiredness can be one’s reaction even if the book comes with biscuits or chocolate or some other inducement to read.
I can’t remember if Lucy Dillon’s editor asked if she could send me an early copy but I would have said yes because I really enjoy her books. I think she manages to deal with tough issues in a way that keeps the faint-hearted (i.e. me) reading.
Her books are often set in a town called Longborough, now peopled with previous heroines. They always involve dogs. For me it is this setting and the dogs that encourage me to read about people who are going through horrible things. I am not a fan of unadulterated misery.
In Unexpected Lessons in Love we read about Jeannie, who is about to get married to Dan, a vet, who proposed to her on Brooklyn Bridge. He is the perfect man, a vet (who needs anything else?) handsome, kind, funny, everything. We discover this during the prologue. In Chapter 1, Jeannie is on her way to the wedding, gorgeous dress pinching agonisingly, and the unspoken doubts she’d been feeling finally burst out of her and she tells her father she can’t go through with the wedding. She texts Dan telling him she’s breaking it off, that he’s not to go to the town hall. Then he walks under a bus.
The book is about how Jeannie and Dan’s other friends and family react, how she finds out about his past and more importantly how she really feels about him. It is romantic but in an unconventional way.
As always with Lucy Dillon the characters are believable if sometimes surprising. If you’ve read previous books you will meet old friends. There are sub-plots that work well and there are issues that makes us think. And always, there are dogs.
My only criticism is the implication that adopting rescue dogs is an easy and lovely thing to do. I don’t argue with the ‘lovely thing to do’ part, but rescue dogs often have problems that would be difficult for an inexperienced owner to cope with.
If you like to read something that takes you away from your own problems I heartily recommend Lucy Dillon. She deals with real, heart breaking dilemmas, but in a way that doesn’t put off readers who really like nice happy stories with happy endings. Which sums me up pretty well.
Unexpected Lessons in Love is published by Black Swan.