Book Review: One Small Act Of Kindness - Lucy Dillon

Sunday, August 19, 2018
Hey there you lot! I'm super excited to finally be writing this book review for you guys. As I mentioned in my post about all the books I've been wanting to read lately, I've been a fan of Lucy Dillon's writing for several years now but it seems they've stopped releasing US editions of her latest books. Luckily, I visited London this past spring so I picked up one of the books I hadn't gotten my hands on yet. I would have grabbed all her books if it weren't for my already overstuffed suitcase, but I only had room for one so One Small Act Of Kindness was the lucky winner.

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We once again return to Dillon's fictitious village of Longhampton (quickly becoming one of my favorite places to live in my mind) where Libby and her husband Jason have recently taken over operations at Jason's family's hotel. His dad recently passed and his mom was struggling to keep the place afloat herself so they moved back from London try breath some new life into the business. Libby is directing a substantial renovation of the hotel and hopes to turn it into a nice boutique experience for all her old friends back in London to come love. Jason is learning a lot about renovations and has taken on the DIY work full-time after having left his lucrative London finance job. Libby and Jason are doing well on the outside, but underneath and definitely not in front of Libby's mother-in-law, they're still working through some marital ripples left in the wake of this giant life change.

Libby doesn't really know many people in Longhampton aside from her husband and mother-in-law. That only changes when she responds to a car accident while out walking her dog (it wouldn't be a Lucy Dillon novel if a dog wasn't involved) and helps an unconscious woman make it safely to the hospital. When Libby visits a few days after the accident, the woman is perfectly fine -- except she has no idea who she is. Despite this, Libby and the mystery woman, who decides to call herself Pippa, form a friendship. When Pippa has nowhere to go home to, at least not that she can remember, she takes up residence at the family hotel until she can regain her memory. Together they navigate the renovation, some marital ups and downs, mother-in-law drama and figuring out just who Pippa is after all.

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I absolutely loved this book. It was heartwarming, comfortable, compelling and just the right amount of suspenseful. I even stayed up into the wee hours of the night to tear through the last pages because I so badly wanted to know how it ended, and boy was I not disappointed. It was a satisfying in a girl power meets first kiss with your crush kind of way and there's not much better than that. There were a surprising number of themes throughout this book, especially compared to your average chick lit novel รก la Sophie Kinsella, etc. (Nothing against those books intended! Just drawing a comparison.) Without trying to give anything away, the book hits on marriage and relationships, in-law dynamics, aging, loss, insecurity, and female friendships. Each of the characters had their own list of problems, flaws and strengths, which intertwined nicely to create an interesting web of storylines.

There were only a couple things that I didn't like as much in this book. Sometimes the juxtaposition of Libby's problems, which tended to be rooted more in material insecurities, with Pippa's problems made it hard to really take Libby seriously, but in the end Dillon did a good job of making Libby just likable enough for us to overlook that. The storyline centering on Libby and Jason's marriage too often seems to have relied on miscommunication to drive the plot, which is a pet peeve of mine. Communicate already people! The marriage storyline doesn't really wrap up in a very satisfying way either. It feels a bit rushed and contrived. Then again I wasn't that invested in it to begin with so I didn't feel like I missed much; The better storylines were all the female character subplots anyway.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's nothing like I expected. For some reason I assumed from the back cover that the mysterious unconscious woman was going to be an elderly woman and from the title that it would have more to do with a chain of charitable events or something -- I was wrong on both counts. I loved what it actually ended up being, characters and story in all and I can't forget the icing on all of Lucy Dillon's cakes: getting to revisit old Longhampton characters, and their dogs, from previous novels. Go find a copy, somehow. You will not be disappointed.


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