After the excesses of Christmas, the rush of new year and the stress of setting yourself resolutions, what you really need in January is a palate cleanser - and that's what Lucy Dillon's A Hundred Pieces of Me provides.
Gina has battled cancer and come out the other side, only to split up with her husband. She moves from her dream home into a flat, and decides the time is right to have a clear out. As she sifts through all the material belongings she has accumulated, Gina reflects on her past and her future.
A Hundred Pieces of Me isn't the type of book I usually read - namely "women's fiction". I'm far more into dystopia, or crime, or genre fiction that has a romantic element to it. So it was with some apprehension that I started Dillon's novel.
What I found was something that tugged at the heartstrings, but in a gentle, largely angst-free way. Sure, there was a bit of heartbreak along the way, but this is really a story about Gina and the experiences that have shaped her, from her relationships with her family and friends to her fight against cancer to her marriage, and not necessarily a love story.
Split between the present day, as Gina sorts through her belongings and starts her new life as a single woman, and her past with Stuart, another man, Kit, and her mum and stepdad, A Hundred Pieces of Me is a layered book which really builds a sense of character. We see young, naive Gina, Gina the wife and Gina the daughter, Gina the friend, and Gina the divorcee who survived cancer. This makes for a book where the reader is really connected to the protagonist. I felt invested in Gina, and found myself wishing and hoping things for her.
Personally, the most thought-provoking element of A Hundred Pieces of Me was Gina's mission to clear her life of material things. While I certainly won't be paring my belongings down to just 100 things, the idea of clearing away extraneous elements is certainly an interesting one. As Gina threw and gave away her things, she also experienced an emotional cleansing. I think perhaps if I got rid of a few books, CDs and clothes that I really only have a slight emotional connection to, it would help clear my mind a little!
A Hundred Pieces of Me is not a difficult read, or one that explores big themes or issues. Rather it's just about living life as best you can. It is a perfect January read - gentle, undemanding, and heartwarming.
•A Hundred Pieces of Me is released on February 27.
How I got this book: From the publisher, Hodder