All I Ever Wanted

All I Ever Wanted

Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy's mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking.Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn't expec...

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Title:All I Ever Wanted
Author:Lucy Dillon
Rating:
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:464 pages

All I Ever Wanted Reviews

  • Louise
    Oct 04, 2016

    Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy's mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking.

    Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn't expect to be the third wife of a much-loved household name, but eight years ago, she and semi-retired bad boy Michael Quinn fell i

    Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy's mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking.

    Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn't expect to be the third wife of a much-loved household name, but eight years ago, she and semi-retired bad boy Michael Quinn fell in love. Eva knew marrying a much older man meant compromises, but it was the love of a lifetime for them both - until Mickey dies suddenly, leaving Eva alone with his gossipy diaries, their two pugs, and a distressing voice in the back of her mind, wondering if perhaps she's sacrificed more than she meant to.

    While Nancy's parents negotiate their separation, the question of weekend contact is solved when Patrick volunteers his sister Eva's house. It's in Longhampton, an hour out of Bristol, with plenty of room for her to get to know a niece and nephew she's barely met - even if Nancy continues to refuse to speak. Patrick is sure it's just a phase but his soon-to-be-ex-wife is worried that something more traumatic lies at the heart of their daughter's selective mutism.

    Meanwhile, Eva begins to read through Mickey's diaries, and with every page she's forced to confront a view of her marriage that turns everything she believed about her late husband, her self - and her own heart - on its head. The fortnightly presence of two children in her peaceful, grown-up home - one constantly singing and performing, the other wordless and sad - initially drives Eva and the two pugs, Bumble and Bee, to exhaustion, but as spring turns into summer, a trust slowly begins to form between an anxious little girl with a heartbreaking secret, and a woman who has realised too late that what her soul yearns for is the love of a child.

    4 stars****

    All I ever wanted isn't the usual kind of book I go for, however I came across this one and thought I'd give it a go. I struggled at first. Nothing really seemed to be happening and I like my fast paced books. I quickly came to the realisation that this wasn't a fast paced book, it was so much more.

    As I said, it took me a while to get into it but when I did, I thought it was brilliant. It always amazes me when a book takes you by surprise.

    I really enjoyed the way the author touched on very real issues about very real family problems such as, divorce or separation and the impact it can have on the children. Of the way that grief can turn into isolation and loneliness. I can imagine what it's like to go through something like this and how they are dealt with.

    I found myself getting frustrated at times too. The anxiety between Patrick and Caitlin, the tension. I yelled so many times and had to put my kindle down several times to readjust my attitude. It says something about a book that can make you do that. That can give you the feels. Praise goes to the author for this accomplishment.

    Although this wasn't my typical book, I'm pleasantly surprised to have found it.

    Happy Reading :-)

    I was kindly gifted this ARC by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  • Emma
    Nov 20, 2016

    I'm not notorious for reading books outside of the young adult genre on this blog but I thought I would widen my horizons when I requested this novel on Netgalley from well know author, Lucy Dillon. All I Ever Wanted explores the lives of two women going through separations for different reasons and delves into the life on one special little girl.

    The two protagonists of the novel are sister-in-laws Caitlin and Eva. They've never spent much time together before but Caitlin's divorce means their p

    I'm not notorious for reading books outside of the young adult genre on this blog but I thought I would widen my horizons when I requested this novel on Netgalley from well know author, Lucy Dillon. All I Ever Wanted explores the lives of two women going through separations for different reasons and delves into the life on one special little girl.

    The two protagonists of the novel are sister-in-laws Caitlin and Eva. They've never spent much time together before but Caitlin's divorce means their paths cross once again and Eva begins to spend more time getting to know her niece and nephew. I fell in love with Eva's character. She is suffering from her husband's death and struggling to move on when her family come back into her life. Although cautious at first, Eva quickly becomes a mother-figure and we see her change from reserved and composed to affectionate and lively. I felt deeply for Eva as she reads through her late husband's diaries and discovers she didn't know as much about him as she originally thought. Despite this, their love was strong and their marriage one I dream of having myself. They were a unit and Mick's death affects not only Eva, but the reader too.

    'Fierce love coursed through her, along with roaring guilt that she'd let this happen.'

    I can't say that I was as big a fan of Caitlin as I was of her sister-in-law. Following her separation from her husband, Caitlin embarks on a relationship with Lee, a personal trainer and band member she has been mesmerized by for a number of years. Although Lee was charming enough, I found Caitlin to be very selfish when she started this relationship because her children were left in danger on a number of occasions as a result, even if not directly because of their mother. Caitlin's need to feel young again beats her need to be a mother and I think this is the reason I didn't warm to her as much. Undoubtedly, however, Caitlin does love her children and you can see the close relationship she has with both of her children throughout the novel.

    The main focus of the novel is 4 year old Nancy, daughter of Caitlin and niece of Eva. Over the course of the novel, Nancy begins to talk less and less until but the end she can't speak at all, communicating only to her auntie's pet pugs and through non-verbal actions. Nancy is possibly the cutest child I have ever come across in fiction. She was absolutely adorable in everything she did and her triumph at the end is heartbreaking. I also loved her relationship with her older brother, Joel, who acted as her savior, stepping in when she physically couldn't let her feelings be known and making his parents aware of his sister's situation. They were a team, getting through their parent's divorce together.

    'Nancy smiled inside. And she smiled on the outside.'

    As a whole the novel dealt with divorce and separation incredibly well. As a child from a 'broken home', I have very strong opinions on divorce and separation and as a result I found it interesting to see divorce from an adult's perspective, although I think this is one of the reasons I didn't warm to Caitlin so much. Eva's story stood out for me, however, when she realises that she will never be a mother after the death of her husband. I found this to be the saddest aspect of the novel. Eva has to decide whether to use fertility treatment to bring up a child or choose to live a life on her own. One of these decisions, however, means letting go of her husband.

    I am also going to note what a great Christmas novel this is. All I Ever Wanted is not centered around Christmas, but the opening chapter gives it a Christmas feel and it will be released in December so it's perfect to read in the winter months. As well as this, I think you may appreciate the novel more if you're British. I have mentioned before how much I love British novels because I understand the humour more, and this novel had some great British references, which were both up to date and funny.

    'What more happiness is there in life than being surrounded by love and your own roses?'

    Having read only a handful of adult fiction, I enjoyed this novel very much. Despite being much younger than the characters I still felt like I could relate and emphasise with them, a feature I always look for in novels. I will definitely be looking for more novels by Lucy Dillon to read.

  • Laura
    Nov 13, 2016

    Book reviews on

    I haven't read any other Lucy Dillon books before, but All I Ever Wanted really impressed me. It was everything I wanted it to be: sweet, emotional, funny, realistic and SO well written.

    The characters all really struck a chord with me. I loved both Eva and Caitlin in their own ways; they're very different but have a lot in common too, and I really liked how they felt like real people to me. The kids were lovely too - Joel seems so sweet and I really enjoyed re

    Book reviews on

    I haven't read any other Lucy Dillon books before, but All I Ever Wanted really impressed me. It was everything I wanted it to be: sweet, emotional, funny, realistic and SO well written.

    The characters all really struck a chord with me. I loved both Eva and Caitlin in their own ways; they're very different but have a lot in common too, and I really liked how they felt like real people to me. The kids were lovely too - Joel seems so sweet and I really enjoyed reading about him!

    It's not what I'd call 'action-packed', with some points seeming slower than others, but it was always interesting and fun to read regardless. The storyline addresses 'real-life' problems and issues around relationships and family, and making everyday life work when life itself can be so hectic and stressful - or, for Eva, a bit less hectic but filled with grief at the loss of her husband. I really felt for her and I liked that the author didn't make anyone out to be a 'bad' person, as such - but sometimes people just grate on eachother for various reasons, and sometimes things are much better.

    I'm really glad Lucy Dillon avoided making any of this novel too cheesy - there were definitely emotional and heart-warming parts to the story, and some bits were really sad, but it was all written with such skill - and the adorable pugs were an added bonus!

    I am so impressed with All I Ever Wanted; it really shines and I will definitely be reading more of her novels.

    * Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton who provided a copy of this novel on which I decided to write an unbiased and honest review. *

  • Rachel Gilbey
    Nov 15, 2016

    What a wonderfully heart warming and loving story, about one family, as they are going through a tough patch.

    When Patrick accepts a job in Newcastle, Caitlin refuses to uproot their children to move up there with him. For Patrick this signifies that it is time to move on and they split up. Caitlin around this time starts to see her husband in a new light, and he really doesn't come across that well in the early part of the book.

    Joel is 10 and loves acting, he is very talkative and is a wonderfu

    What a wonderfully heart warming and loving story, about one family, as they are going through a tough patch.

    When Patrick accepts a job in Newcastle, Caitlin refuses to uproot their children to move up there with him. For Patrick this signifies that it is time to move on and they split up. Caitlin around this time starts to see her husband in a new light, and he really doesn't come across that well in the early part of the book.

    Joel is 10 and loves acting, he is very talkative and is a wonderful big brother. Nancy is almost five, but once her dad moves out, she stops speaking. It's a heart breaking problem and although they are fairly sure it is stress related, noone seems to know the best way to get her talking again. She used to by all accounts be a happy go lucky child, always singing and dancing along with Joel, so its very noticeable how quiet she is now.

    Thankfully Nancy will still communicate just without words, so can get her feelings and some of her thoughts across, and I think if anyone is having a similar dilemma with their own child may take a bit of comfort from this story.

    Caitlin arranges for the kids to see Patrick at weekends at their aunt Eva's house. Eva is the other main focus of the book, she is recently widowed, childless and has barely had anything to do with her young niece and nephew, but she lives a reasonable distance away from the husband and wife.

    As much as Nancy is the main focus of a lot of the book, I loved hearing more about Eva's relationship with her beloved Mick., and the question as to whether his memoirs should be published or not. I also enjoyed seeing Eva's relationship with Joel and Nancy develop over time.

    I regularly state that my favourite Lucy Dillon books feature dogs, and so I was delighted to meet Bumble and Bee, Eva's pugs. They are small and cute, and play a steady role throughout the book, but more importantly they are key in quite a few of the largest, most important scenes in the book.

    Caitlin loves getting a bit of freedom, and Eva also has a new acquaintance who I was hoping things would develop with, however Patrick is always very quick to criticise if anything goes wrong. And of course there are some "situations" involving the children that are quite funny, and definitely memorable, one including a bath, and one including some errant animals in a back garden!

    I found All I Ever Wanted to be an engaging look at one couple's family dynamics along with their aunt, Caitlin's mum who drives her slightly mad and of course the pugs, as they navigate the problems caused by a separation. I found it sympathetic to Nancy's plight and I spent a large amount of the book really rooting for her, and hoping things would change. I felt involved with the story at all times, which was easy to follow and very enjoyable to read.

    Thank you so much to Netgalley and Hodder for this copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

  • Katherine
    Nov 24, 2016

    Lucy Dillon is one of my 'go to' books for when I need a 'comfort read'. So this week on a wet, dark, cold morning when I was not feeling my brightest or my best, this book really was 'all I ever wanted' and actually 'all I ever needed' to unwind with. I was happy to settle into a story where I knew, despite the ups and downs that would inevitably test the characters, Dillon would deliver a satisfying read in which to escape for a few hours.

    This novel has two story lines centred around one famil

    Lucy Dillon is one of my 'go to' books for when I need a 'comfort read'. So this week on a wet, dark, cold morning when I was not feeling my brightest or my best, this book really was 'all I ever wanted' and actually 'all I ever needed' to unwind with. I was happy to settle into a story where I knew, despite the ups and downs that would inevitably test the characters, Dillon would deliver a satisfying read in which to escape for a few hours.

    This novel has two story lines centred around one family. Caitlin and Patrick, parents of Nancy and Joel, find their marriage has come to an end. Patrick moves away to Newcastle. Caitlin tries to hold the family together. Nancy, a bubbly four year old, suddenly stops speaking. Joel, more extroverted, struggles as he tries to help Nancy survive without her own voice. The second story line is about Patrick's sister Eva who is recently widowed. Eva's house is to become the neutral space where the children can see their father. But Eva has never had children and even though they are her niece and nephew, she is inexperienced in looking after them, particularly as they are all trying to come to terms with such huge life changing situations. Dillon then explores both women's journey's as they come to terms with their relationships, needs, wishes and pasts, interweaving their narratives as they each start to realise what parenting, marriage, love and families means to them.

    I liked both the chapters about Caitlin and the chapters about Eva. I liked that I was involved in two quite different stories about women at very different points in their marriages, yet they were linked - through themes as well as more physically through the children and Patrick. I found it really interesting and engaging how Dillon knitted them all together.

    Caitlin was easy to like. She has a very honest and blunt voice and her comment in the opening pages that it was "the little things you fall in love with that make you want to stab your partner to death with a fork in the end" felt very well observed! The way Patrick opened his "notebook of issues to raise in mediation" were incredibly visual and immediately created an image of his practical, focussed, workaholic character.

    Their story is sad. Patrick has always put work first; to him, this is the best way to be a father by earning money to allow Caitlin to be at home with the children everyday. He knows he misses the "magical stuff" but he does so because he is working. He has a very clear, perhaps inflexible, outlook which is largely based on a misinformed image of his own parents. His view of them is based on photos and selective memories rather than the truth. Through the daily pressure of having a young family and working hard, Caitlin and Patrick have simply fallen out of love with each other.

    Initially I was more sympathetic towards Caitlin and found her reflections about parenting very moving and real:

    "the types of pain she most wanted to protect them from were invisible, out of her control, and these are the things that kept her awake at night."

    But then, as the novel progress there are moments when I felt more sympathy towards Patrick. His explanations about why he thought he was doing the right thing and why he has put work first reveal his naivety and there was also something that made me feel pity for this man who was so desperately trying to do the right thing but in fact getting it so wrong. I like that we roll from one character to the other, realigning our feelings as we watch how they behave and react to various situations. Dillon never quite lets us side with only one character, she wants us to feel sympathy for them all in different ways.

    Of course, this is how it is in life, particularly any kind of close relationship. Dillon's characters are real, fallible, guilty and not without fault but they are also trying to be the best wife, husband, mother and father they can. They've just got a bit lost along the way. It's not until towards the end of the book when they actually start to be properly honest with each other that their relationship can begin to move forward. This was very believable and relatable. I liked Caitlin's frank comments that life was "never quite as wonderful as people hope." But once she starts to accept that life is better when you do your best rather than what you think you should be doing, or what you think others expect from you, then she is able to see her life differently and begin to right the wrongs.

    In contrast we meet Eva, third wife of celebrity Michael Quinn, who has just died. Michael leaves behind him some personal diaries which Eva begins to read. Dillon uses the diaries initially as a lovely metaphor to reflect the turning point Eva is now facing in her life and as a way of her coming to terms with her past and her future. I also really enjoyed the passages where Eva recounted the events from her point of view and then we read them through Mickey's eyes. There were some entertaining recollections about his second wife Cheryl and her fashion sense - "billionaire Magpie"- and how much he revelled in taking the "glittery tat, all unworn, that flashed at me every time I opened the wardrobe" down to the charity shop.

    Eva is very thoughtful and reflective. She feels quite isolated, her grief is palpable and reflects something deeper; a grief for a life that could have been or should have been and that enormous burden of wondering what to do next. Reading Mickey's diaries has a huge impact on her in so many ways and I really enjoyed how Dillon did this:

    "'I often wonder what kind of kids Eva and I would have had.' There: one small, tender, pitiless sentence that cut her heart to shreds."

    Eva has two pug dogs and it is the dogs that take the staring role when the children come to visit. In fact is is the dogs that show Eva how to build a relationship with the children - particularly the mute Nancy.

    "Without thinking, she held out her hand [to Nancy]. Almost the same way the dog trainer had told her to let a strange dog sniff her out......Nancy responded."

    There is a good balance and contrast between the two story lines; just the right number of characters to invest in, believe in and care about. Eva and Patrick's relationship as siblings also adds another layer and it is interesting to watch the different dynamics play out.

    I really liked the themes that Dillon explores in this novel. There are the obvious ones about parenting, love, relationships, families and marriage; then the more emotional ones like guilt, fear, possession, grief and honesty. Then there are the more subtle concepts about expectations, choices and accepting reality. There is a lot to discuss with regards to dilemmas and choices. The idea of failure - or fear of failure - as well as rescuing people. As Dillon writes, we have editorial control of our own lives.

    Some of the final passages actually contain quite profound messages. Isn't it worth being the "best version of ourselves rather than something they weren't?"

    I adored the use of bubble mixture to blow secret wishes into. If you choose to do this novel with your book group, you would have to give everyone some bubble mixture to play with. It was an inspired moment and a truly beautiful and magical image.

    And finally, Lucy Dillon thank you for the happy ending. I'm sorry if that's a huge spoiler but do you know, that is what I needed, and all I ever wanted when I started reading this book! If you are looking for something that tackles relevant issues, complex family dynamics with a few emotional revelations in a gentle, easy, well paced style, then this is the book for you! It's a pleasing and satisfying read with likeable characters and a plausible plot line that strikes a good balance between sadness, happiness, seriousness and humour.

  • MetLineReader
    Nov 24, 2016

    Great tale of a family in crisis. The cherry on top is the characterisation of the Pugs, Bumble and Bee, who bring warmth and humour to what is potentially a much more difficult story. Loved the kids too - strong Joel and Fancy Nancy. But the pugs steal the show! A special mention to Eva, who is much more important than you initially think

    A good enjoyable and humorous read.

  • Karen Mace
    Dec 02, 2016

    As a big fan of Lucy Dillon I am always ready to read her latest stories, so couldn't wait to get my hands on this one! And after a slow start that didn't immediately grab me, I was soon drawn into the family drama and dynamics that the author writes about so well.

    In this book we follow two main storylines - the first of which is the marriage breakdown between Caitlin and Patrick, who seem to have had it all but when Patrick is offered a job away from Bristol in Newcastle, and Caitlin is relucta

    As a big fan of Lucy Dillon I am always ready to read her latest stories, so couldn't wait to get my hands on this one! And after a slow start that didn't immediately grab me, I was soon drawn into the family drama and dynamics that the author writes about so well.

    In this book we follow two main storylines - the first of which is the marriage breakdown between Caitlin and Patrick, who seem to have had it all but when Patrick is offered a job away from Bristol in Newcastle, and Caitlin is reluctant to leave her grans' house which contains so many memories, then they decide to split and try and sort out a custody arrangement for the 2 children - Joel and Nancy. Caitlin had Joel before she met Patrick, but Patrick is the only father Joel knows so its' a big change for them all. And Nancy - or fancy nancy as she is often called - is the sweetest 4 year old who is extremely sensitive and when daddy goes away, nancy ends up withdrawing into herself and refuses to speak.

    Meanwhile, Patricks' sister Eva is still in mourning after losing her husband Michael, a big hollywood star from yorkshire, and she has retreated into her safe space at home with her 2 pugs - bumble and bee! She never had much contact with her brother after a difficult childhood but when he asks if they can use her home to meet up with the children every other weekend, she reluctantly agrees. If only she knew what effect those 2 children are to have on her and her healing process.

    The author has such a great way of exploring each character and the realities of life , that you soon lose yourself in their world as you follow their stories - some good, some bad - as they try and work things out and try and remember why they were together in the first place and to do what is right for the children. I did find myself losing empathy with Caitlin over certain decisions and outbursts she made as she often came across quite selfish and is very quick to judge others and refuses to blame herself when necessary.

    And the character of Eva was such a lovely addition as she was reliving her life with Michael through diaries he had left, and certain things she read made her re-evaluate all she knew, as well as bringing her comfort. Spending time with her nephew and niece also made her revisit her childhood with Patrick and that brought up certain issues and explained why Patrick often behaved in certain ways.

    Overall, another wonderfully enthralling story from Lucy Dillon and I look forward to lots more!

    I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publishers

  • Nicola Clough
    Jan 14, 2017

    I always look forward to Lucy Dillon's books and she certainly didn't disappoint at all very moving story and follows the lives of number of people and makes you think. Caitlin is going through a split from her husband and her daughter Nancy stops talking but she use to be so talkative so comes as a shock her brother speaks for her but their auntie Eva lost her husband a number of years ago but is suddenly given his diaries and she starts to read them can she cope with what she hears but she als

    I always look forward to Lucy Dillon's books and she certainly didn't disappoint at all very moving story and follows the lives of number of people and makes you think. Caitlin is going through a split from her husband and her daughter Nancy stops talking but she use to be so talkative so comes as a shock her brother speaks for her but their auntie Eva lost her husband a number of years ago but is suddenly given his diaries and she starts to read them can she cope with what she hears but she also gets close to Nancy and can she get her talking or not and what part does her dogs play well worth reading to find out.

  • Lynn Mccarthy
    Dec 24, 2016

    This is the first book I have read by this Author but not the last.

    The book is about family issues and relationships there are two separate stories that intertwine in the story plus two cute children.

    Its a beautiful book with a heart warming story.

    Thank you netgalley the Publisher and Author for letting me review this book.

  • LoisReadsBooks
    Jan 11, 2017

    I had never read any of Lucy Dillon’s work before I picked this one up and I’ll be sure to read more of her books now. I certainly went though a lot of emotions whilst reading this book. It is a calming story about a family going through a rough patch in their lives.

    At first I thought this story would follow Caitlin and Patrick’s life but it is through Caitlin that we learn about Eva, who is Patrick’s older sister. This was an unexpected bonus for me. This really made the story more complex and

    I had never read any of Lucy Dillon’s work before I picked this one up and I’ll be sure to read more of her books now. I certainly went though a lot of emotions whilst reading this book. It is a calming story about a family going through a rough patch in their lives.

    At first I thought this story would follow Caitlin and Patrick’s life but it is through Caitlin that we learn about Eva, who is Patrick’s older sister. This was an unexpected bonus for me. This really made the story more complex and interesting by adding layers and depth.

    What Lucy Dillon does perfectly in this story is she doesn’t let the reader feel pity or anger with one particular character for a long time. She quickly changes tracks making the readers opinion change too. At first I really didn’t like Patrick because of how patronising he was but later on in the book I did change my opinion of him. I liked Caitlin’s character as even though she was going through a really hard time in her life she kept going. My favourite character was Eva, I instantly got caught up in her story and her feelings.

    Each of Lucy Dillon’s characters have deep and complex personalities. Nancy reminded me of my younger sister when she was Nancy’s age. Always talking, singing and laughing. I really couldn’t imagine if my younger sister stopped talking altogether. Nancy’s story is a heart-breaking one. I saw a little of myself in Joel with how clumsy he is which is just like me.

    This book touches on so many issues, divorce, anxiety, hiding your secrets and the biggest issue being family life. This book definitely approaches all of these issues incredibly.

    This book is a slow burner though. Due to this I felt uncertain about it at the beginning. I didn’t think the book was for me as I usually like fast-paced books. But as the story slowly developed I got into it a whole lot more. Although it is a slow burner it has to be this way in order to have the many layers it has to slowly peel off.

    Overall, I would recommend this books to anyone who wants a fiction story that tackles a lot of issues and wants to read a heartwarming story. I will definitely be reading more Lucy Dillon books in the future.

    Thank to Lucy Dillon, Hodder Paperbooks and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.