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Another book from my huge pile and I decided to read one of my books that I had from an author I had not read before. I had picked this one up as part of one of the there for the price of two deals in Waterstones and it had been sat on my shelf for absolutely ages so I decided it was finally time to give it a go!
Sharon Owens is an Irish author who lives in Belfast with her husband and their daughter. She has written 4 previous novels including 'The revenge of the wedding planner' and 'The ballroom on Magnolia street' which are all fiction. I had seen her other books many times in the book stores but, I had just never been that tempted to buy one in all honesty so this book for me was going to determine whether or not I would go out and buy any more of her books.
Ruby O'Neill has a good life with her husband Jonathan. They have a gorgeous home and are planning to start trying for a family when tragically, on Christmas Eve, Jonathan is killed in a car accident. Ruby is devastated of course and tries to carry on as best as she can by keeping busy and with the help of her friend Jasmine she starts to try and piece together a normal life. Ruby also meets Tom, a gardener who is also a widower and together they try to bring comfort to each other - however can Ruby really ever get over Jonathan and move on with her life?
Ruby comes across as a very mild and introvert sort of character straight from the beginning who is a lovely person. I think the author did a good job making Ruby this way as it shows more so how cruel life can be when her husband is then killed and how such a nice person has had such a horrible thing happen to her. The book follows a very long time period and over this time we see Ruby change somewhat and also how she is coping with the death over this time.
Tom we meet initially very early on in the book as a small snippet in the beginning and he is made out to be quite a recluse of sorts and as the story progresses we see how he and Ruby meet properly and get to know each other. He comes across as a very kind man who is also quite sad and feeling very lonely since his wife's death over 6 years ago.
The last main character of the book is Jasmine who is Ruby's best friend. She is the single girl about town who is always on hand to comfort Ruby and who also works with her. She comes across as a women who should have it all as she is beautiful and a lovely person yet has never met anybody who she has fell in love with and yet even though she hasn't she still does her absolute best to help Ruby to get back on track with her life.
I bought my book in Waterstones as part of the 3 for 2 deal so the average price of the book was just over £4. However you can pick it up online on in stores for around the £4-£5 mark. Or of course there is always the library!
I did enjoy the book but, I felt somewhat that it was quiet slow to begin with and I am not sure if this was because of the subject matter or if it was just because of the authors style of writing. I initially started it and then put it back down a couple of times because it didn't grip me very much but, I decided to stick with it because of course I had paid for it and in the end it did turn out to be a good enough read for me to enjoy it. I think after reading this I would try one of her other books but, only if I was bale to buy it at a bargain price as I wouldn't want to pay full price in case it was also a bit on the slow side like this one. Overall it was good enough to read and I did enjoy it but, just not as much as some of the other chick lit authors out there.
Ruby O'Neill thought she had it all: a gorgeous husband, a rock-solid marriage and a fairytale house. Until one night, on Christmas Eve, Ruby's world is shattered into tiny little pieces when she finds out her husband has died in a car accident. As Ruby's friend Jasmine helps her through her grief, Ruby decides to move house and buy out the shop in which she works. As Ruby and Jasmine make a success of the shop, Ruby's life seems to be getting back on track, but she still feels as if she'll never love again - until she meets Tom, a fellow widower. Are Ruby and Tom sufficiently over their grief to be able to love again or will it all end in disaster?
Sharon Owens is a relatively new author to me although she this is actually her fifth book. I read a review of one of her other books (The Revenge of the Wedding Planner) and although it wasn't particularly favourable I did like the sound of her books so when I was offered the chance of being able to read her new book The Seven Secrets of Happiness I jumped at the chance! I eagerly started the book and I really found myself enjoying the book.
Whereas a lot of books focus on our heroine ending up alone via a cheating boyfriend/husband at the start of a novel, The Seven Secrets of Happiness takes a different tack and starts promisingly but takes a sad turn 20 or so pages in. I admit that after reading the blurb on the back the last thing I expected was the death of Ruby's husband. It was an incredible shock but the blurb, after reading it back, does hint at someone dying rather than Ruby's husband actually leaving her which was my initial thought. Sharon Owens does a really good job at portraying Ruby's grief as well as that of Tom, the man Ruby meets the night her husband dies. I don't have much experience of grief but I could really feel for Ruby and, even more so, for Tom and I found Owens treated the subject very sensitively.
The Seven Secrets of Happiness spans about three years in total, from start to finish, and there are quite a few time jumps although none of them seemed at all forced and all kind of helped keep the story flowing. Because, in total honesty, if the entire book had focused solely on Ruby's grief then I don't think it would have worked so the jumps in time helped us see how Ruby had moved on after that disastrous night. I adored the seven secrets of happiness aspect of the book - which is essentially the main plot I would say - and looked forward to revealing each of the seven secrets. All of the stories pertaining the secrets were all inspiring. I thought all seven secrets to happiness could well be the secrets to happiness.
As far as characters go I found myself really loving Ruby. She's a hugely sympathetic character and you'd have to have quite a hard heart to not feel for Ruby at all as she goes through quite a lot of drama. She never really felt sorry for herself though and the way she managed to deal with her grief was quite fantastic. Jasmine, Ruby's best friend, was an absolute rock to Ruby throughout her mourning period and I found myself really warming to her early on. The friendship between herself and Ruby was easily believable. My favourite character, though was Tom, a fellow widower and the man Ruby meets the night her husband dies. He seemed like such a nice character and I loved getting to know him before he and Ruby really made contact. It's so good being able to get to know a character before he/she enters a relationship with our main character. There were a few minor characters including Ruby's mother and father who at the beginning seem to be happy together, until Ruby's mother Emily ups and leaves the country during some sort of midlife crisis. That added another thread to the entire story making for a fantastic story.
While I did love the book, I did find myself getting irritated at certain aspects of the writing. Irish writers have a habit of adding "so" onto the ends of their sentences as well as adding things like "so I am" onto the end of a sentence where they've already said they're doing something. Example: "I'm going shopping, so I am." and it really doesn't work because they're essentially repeating the same thing twice! From the little contact I've had with Irish people I've never heard any of them add "so" or "so I am" onto their sentences and I just don't understand why editors don't just edit them out. Another thing Irish authors seem intent on doing is using the full names of their characters in dialogue ("You will not Ruby O'Neill"). It would take nothing from the story except to make sentences more fluid and not sound so silly. Apart from that, I found Sharon Owens's writing style easy to get into and immensely enjoyable.
The Seven Secrets of Happiness is an incredibly enjoyable read and one I hugely recommend. Sharon Owens seems a hugely promising new chick lit talent and I look forward to picking up more of her books! The magical aspect of her book may not be as far out as Cecelia Ahern's books but it's there and it's incredibly heartwarming. The Seven Secrets of Happiness really does ask the question of whether love is possible again after such horrible tragedy and heartbreak and I found the answer to be perfectly adequate.