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Official Synopsis: Juliet's been in hiding. From her family, from her life, but most of all from the fact that Ben's not around anymore. Her mother Diane can't do anything to help. But, when she insists Juliet look after her elderly Labrador, it becomes clear that perhaps the dog, Coco, could help her daughter where she couldn't. Catching on, her neighbours ask Juliet for help with their pets too. But then so does Mark, the gorgeous spaniel-owner she meets out dogwalking. And before she knows it, Juliet realises she's somehow become the town's unofficial petsitter, and is now privy to all the lives and secrets of everyone whose animals she's caring for. But as her first winter alone approaches, she finally begins to wonder if it's time to face up to her own secrets? To start rebuilding her own life? And maybe - just maybe - to fall in love again? My Opinion: Last year when I received a copy of Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon I couldn't wait to read it. I adore novels that feature dogs, and knew it would only be a matter of time before I devoured the novel. It is now a year later and I still haven't read it. So when I received a copy of Lucy's latest novel Walking Back To Happiness, I started reading it immediately as I was desperate to not let it sit on my bookshelf unread and boy I am so glad I didn't just let it sit on my shelf for a year. Walking Back To Happiness is the kind of read that makes me want to curl up in front of a fire, as it seems to be an appropriate setting for a book such as this. It's the kind of story you can immerse yourself in, and is one you end up not wanting to put down because it's just that enjoyable. I must admit, because the book mentions bereavement I expected Juliet to be a bitter miserable widow, and that the whole book would revolve around her misery, but actually, she doesn't spend that much time lost in self-pity. She has her moments, as I could well expect, but the story is more about hope than anything else. Hope that, despite everything, it is possible to get over losing somebody and I liked how Juliet's family and new neighbours, the Kelly's, along with the dogs, helped bring Juliet back to normality again. I found myself really liking Juliet, her grief seeps off the pages during the first few chapters and it made me sad that such a couple as Juliet and Ben had been torn apart, as they seemed perfect for each other. I could understand why Juliet had shied away from her friends, her family, her job since Ben's death but I was pleased it didn't go too far, and I enjoyed it when Juliet started becoming more sociable again. As for Juliet's sister, Louise, I didn't really like her very much. Compared to Juliet she seemed very driven, very determined to get what she wanted and to be honest she just came across as very cold. Diane, the girls' mother, was interfering but in a good way and I found her very amusing. But the family who stole the show were the Kelly's, Juliet's next door neighbours along with their lodger Lorcan. They brought life and soul to the novel and I loved how they welcomed Juliet into their home. Finally, I must mention the wonderful dogs. Minton, Juliet's own dog along with Coco Diane's dog as well as the babe-magnet Hector and lonely Damson. Surprisingly, they all added to the book in their own way, and they really made me smile. I love how the book gave across the message that just because you're a widow doesn't mean you have to lock yourself up in your house twenty-four/seven crying and that it's just the smallest of things that can help during the grieving process. Mainly, though, I loved the dog aspect to the book. Having two dogs myself I am well aware of how good dogs are at being there when you need someone to listen and know when to come and lie with you to be stroked and I loved how Minton as well as Coco helped Juliet out of her stupor. Walking Back To Happiness was very well written, dealing not only with Juliet's grief but also focusing on Juliet's sister Louise's own relationship with her husband after their baby son was born. I just found the whole book enchanting, and it was a perfect Saturday afternoon read for me and I was very sad to see it end. It's fair to say that Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts won't be sitting on my shelf much longer, that's for sure.
One of my favourite books which I read in 2010 was by a new author to me, Lucy Dillon with her award winning book Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts. The way she brought the reader into the story made its mark on me. One of my Christmas presents was Lucy Dillon's new book Walking Back to Happiness which I knew by the style of the front cover was Lucy Dillon's book. I was hoping it would be just as good as the previous book. ****PLOT**** The story is mainly based on Juliet whose husband Ben has passed away at such a young age and Juliet just wants to hide away from the world but her mum and sister Louise have other plans and try to coax her out of her home each day. Diane, Juliet's Mum, gets Juliet the job of dog walker for her neighbour but word soon gets out about Juliet and she finds herself with a list as long as her arm of people who need their dogs walking. Juliet begins taking small steps to become a part of society and to start living again with the help of her family and the love interest Lorcan, who lives next door. Lorcan makes small steps to help Juliet get the run down home she shields herself in back to a liveable condition but can he also fix Juliet? There is also a few chapters in this book which are from Juliet's sisters point of view which adds a small storyline to a main storyline which was quite a nice touch. We see that although Juliet thinks that Louise is the world's perfect wife and mother things are not always quite what they seem. ****CHARACTERS**** JULIET:- We see Juliet's character grow throughout the book and as her character grows we warm more to her character as each chapter comes along. I found that each little step that Juliet takes you just want to give her a pat on the back and say "Well done, everything is going to be ok !" Lorcan:- I was a little uncertain of his character when he first arrives in the book. He was a little mysterious and was a little wary but as the story came along and he became more involved you really connected to his character and like the gentle approach he was taking in helping Juliet. Louise:- This was one character which I didn't really connect with. We see that Louise is struggling coming to terms with the changes in her life now she is a new mum, and she finds herself falling out of love with her husband and falling for another man who seems to understand her more. Diane:- Juliet and Louise's mum is your typical interferring but lighthearted mother and you can see that everything she does she is taking her daughters into consideration. ****MY OPINION**** I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found I could not put this book down. I think the way the story is brought to us is unlike any book I have read before it was full of hurt and emotion and as the reader you actually feel as if this is happening to someone you know as you connect with the story right from the first page. Although it is a very sad book I did not find it depressing. I did find it was a little bit of a shame that we didn't actually get to meet Juliet's husband Ben before he past but this is made up for with many references about their relationship throughout the book. This book had one similarity with the previous and that is the use of the dogs in both books and they also do the same job in helping their owners to start again. The love interest is beautifully written in this story. Without giving too much away there are to paths that Juliet can take and until she actually chooses the reader can not predict which way she will turn. This story has everything you can want from a good read, a lot of emotion along with a little sense of humour, a sprinkling of romance, and a big cup of suspense! I would recommend this book highly I cannot say a bad thing about this book it ticked all of the boxes for me. Give it a try!!! ISBN: 978-1444713916.
Juliet is hiding away again. It wasn't even a year ago that she lost her beloved husband Ben to a young and tragic death, and Juliet just wants to shut the world out and go about her grieving in her own way. However, her mother Diane and sister Louise have different ideas about what Juliet needs, and manages to get her a job as the neighbourhood's unofficial dog-walker. Reluctantly, Juliet agrees, and finds that the fresh air and dogs are all she needs to finally start coming out of her shell. She's sure it doesn't mean she is ready to start talking to people again, let alone about her lovely Ben, but she's more open to getting out, and even speaking to her mad Irish next door neighbours Emer and Lorcan. Will Juliet find her own way back to happiness or is her life destined to be one long, lonely road? This is Lucy Dillon's third novel, and she is certainly one author who seems to be getting better with every book. Her last title, Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts which I really enjoyed, won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2010, and while I think that was deserving, I would say that this book also deserves that title! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I think it certainly adds to the books appeal, especially at this wintery time of year. It seems that dogs are pretty important to Dillon as its her second book in a row to feature them, so canine book fans will undoubtedly be looking out for this one too. The book begins with the character of Juliet grieving over the sudden death of her young husband Ben. Juliet therefore isn't the happiest character, but you can understand why and I think it's important for the reader to get that connection with her straight away as you are meant to sympathise with her story and also feel like you want everything to work out for her in the end too. You can feel her pain through Dillon's writing, she really does put across Juliet's raw emotion perfectly, and I really did feel for poor Juliet. It was nice to see her develop as the book progresses, you can see the change in her because of the people around her, and it shows what people can really do to help other people out when they need it. However, whilst there is all this sorrow for Juliet going on, there is quite a bit of humour throughout the book which keeps the tone quite light and stops the book getting too bogged down. Juliet's mother Diane is such a typically interfering mother, she means well of course but you see why Juliet gets annoyed with her! She's very nosy in her daughter's life and helps her become a dog walker. Diane's scenes with her dog Coco are hilarious because she treats her like a little girl, not a dog, and it is funny to read. There are some pretty touching scenes with Juliet and her parents towards the end of the book, and these were a joy to read, I loved them and found them very tear-jerking and perfectly fitted in with the book. As well as Juliet's recovery story, we do have another serious storyline involving Juliet's sister Louise. We can see everything isn't perfect for the new mother who is struggling in her marriage to Peter, especially knowing that her sister lost her husband young, she feels more pressure to make her marriage work. There are more secrets that come out as the story moves on, some of which I didn't see coming at all which was really good, I like that Dillon managed to keep these things from us because it kept the book fresh as I was reading, and it made me so curious to keep reading and find out what was happening. Louise's story is quite emotional, and I am sure quite a lot of people will be able to relate to it, and I think Dillon handled the plot sensitively and with real tact. The book is very emotional - it follows several people all determined to make a change for the better in their lives, and because of that it is a very uplifting book. I found myself smiling a lot as I read it, and there were a good few tear-jerking moments as well that had me welling up with emotion, but in a good way. The book was a joy to read from start to finish, and I really felt like I had been on a real journey with these characters, especially Juliet. Her budding friendship with the wonderful Lorcan was brilliant to read, and I was willing the pair of them to open their eyes to what was in front of them! The story handled loss, sorrow and moving on really well and is a truly uplifting and amazing read. I loved every single page. ISBN: 978-1444713916. Published by Hodder in December 2010. Pages: 416. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com Thank you for reading.