Book Review: Where the Light Gets in by Lucy Dillon

Where the Light Gets in by Lucy Dillon
Release Date: 19th April 2018
Publisher: Bantam Press
Buy: Hardback  Kindle

'You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .

After volunteering at a hospice and becoming close to one of the elderly residents, Betty Dunlop, Lorna is upset when she eventually passes away. However, Betty had something of a positive impact on Lorna - after living through the Blitz and a string of awful husbands, Betty taught her the importance of being brave.
When Lorna discovers that she she has been left Betty's George Medal she in inspired to follow her dreams and open up her own art gallery in the town of Longhampton where she grew up. However, after failed attempts in the past, Lorna knows that it is do or die when it comes to her new project- but she would never forgive herself if she didn't at least give it a go...However moving back to Longhampton looks set to open up some painful memories for Lorna, especially when she bumps into her teenage crush, Sam. Then there are all the memories of her now deceased parents. Not to mention the fact that Lorna's mother was an artist herself, making Lorna feel under extra pressure to succeed.Full of ideas Lorna wastes no time in making her gallery her own, but with Art Week fast approaching she really needs to come up with something just that little bit special. If only she could get the input of reclusive local artist Joyce Rotherby. That would solve everything...
Meanwhile the George Medal wasn't the only thing Betty bequeathed to Lorna. She also entrusted the care of her dachshund, Rudy, who doesn't like men and suffers with nervous flatulence...Lorna doesn't hesitate in providing Rudy with a home - but can this nervy little sausage dog help her gallery to succeed in his own way...?

Things that are right with this book... 1) It is written by super-author Lucy Dillon. Lucy's books are always such a joy to read; warm, funny, wise and beautifully written. 2) IT HAS A SAUSAGE DOG IN IT.

Ultimately there are a tonne of other things that are right with this book, too many to list in fact - it was pure joy in book form and I adored every single chapter.
I knew we were in for an emotional ride when the opening scenes depicted Betty passing away. (My heart broke for Rudy...) Even though we never really got to meet Betty properly as a character, I still felt as though I knew her and I absolutely loved her and admired her for her bravery in all aspects of her life.
I loved the scenes where Lorna first took on Rudy and was taking him for a walk (Just some of the things he was scared of include thunder, cats, men and other dogs...Especially Labradors as we soon discover.) As someone who owns three dachshunds I felt that Lucy had her descriptions of sausage dogs perfectly on point...I couldn't have described my three better myself!

It soon becomes clear that Lorna and her sister Jess had a very complex relationship with their parents, both of whom died within a short time of one another. Lorna feels guilty that she wasn't with her mum at the end - hence her volunteering at the hospice - and I was keep to find out more about the family, their history and their dynamics.
Just as Lorna is getting settled in her friend Tiff comes to stay. I feared she was going to annoy me at first but I quickly warmed to her. Add Lorna's teenage niece Hattie into the mix after another family drama and Lorna's peaceful retreat soon became a bustling hive of activity.

I really wanted Lorna to succeed with the gallery and I became intrigued when Joyce Rotherby was brought into the equation. Joyce is a local artist who is now an elderly lady and somewhat of a recluse. Previous owners of the gallery tried and failed to make contact with Joyce but something told me that Lorna was going to be different - I just didn't know how she was going to manage it...

I loved the cast of characters in Where the Light Gets In. Lorna was a brilliant lead, Tiff and Hattie were great side-kicks, social worker Keir often had me in stitches... but I couldn't quite work Sam out. It was clear Lorna still harbored feelings for him but he always went about things the wrong way, so it was never entirely clear as to whether anything would happen between the two of them and I liked that. Who wants a slap-bang,obvious romance from page one? Don't get me started on his brother, though, EURGH.

I loved the way the story progressed and the characters developed. We learn so much more about Joyce and I quickly grew to like her, despite her sometimes steely demeanor. Her dog, Bernard, was the cutest thing ever (apart from Rudy, of course...) and I'm not going to say too much about the ending but just make sure you have tissues. I WAS A MESS.

There wasn't a single thing I didn't love about Where the Light Gets In. The characters, the vibrancy of the storyline, Lucy's wonderful writing - and the overriding message about trusting your own instincts and ignoring self-doubt.

I want more from Lucy, I want more from these characters, I want more from Longhampton Art Gallery, I want more of Rudy. I'm not ready to let this heart-warming, gorgeous story go just yet...


A huge thank you to Becky at Transworld for the opportunity to review.

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