Book giveaway: The Secrets of Happiness - Lucy Diamond

This giveaway is sponsored by Pan Macmillan

What is the secret of happiness? Family? Love? Endless chocolate? Rachel and Becca certainly aren't experts.

They're not real sisters, or so they say. They are stepsisters, living apart, with little in common. Rachel is supposedly the successful one:  married with three children and a big house, plus an impressive career. Artistic Becca, meanwhile, lurches from one dead-end job – and bad date – to another, and shares a tiny flat with an eccentric roommate.

The two of them have lost touch, but when Rachel doesn’t come home one night, Becca – much to her surprise - is called in to help. Once there, she quickly learns that her stepsister's life is not so perfect after all: Rachel's handsome husband has moved out, her children are rebelling, and her glamorous career has taken a nosedive.

Worst of all, nobody seems to have a clue where she might be.

As Becca begins to untangle Rachel's secrets, she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about her own life. But when the stepsisters are thrown together, each of them into a brand new life, they soon realise that happiness, like love, can hide in the least likely of places. 

Meet the author: Lucy Diamond

What are you reading now?

I'm reading a book called The Assistants by Camille Perri that's out this spring. So far it's fast-paced, smart and very funny: a tale of office assistants turning the tables on the company that employs them. I can't wait to find out how it ends.


What books did you receive for Christmas?

Lots of goodies! The new book by Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil, which is absolutely brilliant. Going Off Alarming, the second volume in Danny Baker's autobiography which made me laugh so many times. Cockfosters by Helen Simpson - she writes such fantastic short stories. And plenty more still to read. I think I might just hibernate until summer...


What is the last book you bought someone as a gift?

I bought a copy of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr for my mum as part of her Christmas present because it absolutely blew me away when I read it last year. The writing is beautiful and the story manages to be original, moving and gripping all at once, the sort of book where you can hardly breathe by the time you reach the end.


Is research a big part of your writing process?

I like to research locations, to walk the streets where my characters walk and look out for details they might notice, so I often go away for a few days while I'm writing a book to the place where it's set in order to soak up the atmosphere. I try to get my facts right too - in The Secrets of Happiness, some of the action takes place in a hospital so I drove a GP friend nuts by asking her all sorts of things to check it all out. But in general, my stories tend to be about women like me, you, the woman in the street - a lot of the subject matter is drawn from experience and putting myself in another person's shoes.


Do you have any peculiar writing rituals or habits?

A good strong mug of tea is about my only must-have. I have always treated writing as my job, from back when our children were tiny and my husband and I split the working week and childcare between us - and the bills, too. Once I've walked my youngest daughter to school, I just crack on with the new chapter until it's time to pick her up again that afternoon. We have recently got a puppy so my writing routine now includes an enforced break, where I walk her after lunch - brilliant for thinking through that day's plot problems! 


What advice would you offer to aspiring writers? 

Write the story you would most like to read, the one story that only you can tell. Read your dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds natural. Ask a trusted friend to read a few chapters and give you constructive feedback. And seek out a great literary agent to be your right hand (wo)man - you can find a list of them in The Writers and Artists Yearbook.


Can you tell us about 'The Secrets of Happiness'?

I would be delighted to! It's about two stepsisters, Rachel and Becca, who have never really seen eye to eye. Rachel is nine years older and has always been the 'successful one', with her great career, handsome husband, lovely children and elegant house. Becca, meanwhile, has always felt like the family loser, shambling from one rubbish job to another, barely able to afford the rent on her grotty flat. But when Rachel goes missing, Becca is called in to help - and soon realises her stepsister's life isn't quite as wonderful as she thought.

It's about family dynamics and secrets, and picking yourself up again when the worst has happened.


About the Author

Lucy Diamond lives in Bath with her husband and their three children. She has written eleven novels, including Summer at Shell Cottage and The Year of Taking Chances, both of which have been Sunday Times bestsellers.

This year, she has also written A Baby at the Beach Café, a Quick Read title specifically aimed at new mums. When she isn't slaving away on a new book (ahem) you can find her on Twitter @Ldiamondauthor and Facebook

Also by Lucy Diamond:

Book giveaway

Pan Macmillan have asked us to find 50 Mumsnetters to read The Secrets of Happiness and share their thoughts about it on the discussion thread. Fill in the form below to apply for your copy.

You don't have to win a free copy to take part in the discussion. Anyone who has read The Secrets of Happiness can post their feedback on the discussion threadAll who post feedback before 14 March will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.

This giveaway closes Monday 1 February so apply now!

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Last updated: over 1 year ago