I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I’m ashamed to say I did with this one. I took one look at the pretty, colourful, nature-tastic facade and decided it would be a standard chick-lit; a flowery romance strung together over 300-odd pages.
When I finally got round to starting Beautiful Day I cursed myself for not reading it sooner. It really wasn't what I expected and I couldn't put it down.
Rachel Bidewell is still coming to terms with the end of her marriage and is juggling the responsibilities of her household (three young children and a moody au pair) with her new job at Clifton Avenue care home. She becomes the key worker for Phillip, a man with learning difficulties who has just lost the only person in the world who cared for him.
When Rachel and Phillip meet for the first time, she knows she has her work cut out, but she is determined to help Phillip progress and catch up on the years he has lost. All the while, she is coping with the demands of family life and she finds herself in her own dark days. Both Rachel and Phillip have a journey ahead of them, and the unlikely pairing may help them find their own happiness.
I loved the character of Rachel. I've yet to experience marriage and having children of my own, but I felt like I was right there with her; despairing when she despaired and happy with her at her triumphs. Beautiful Day is powered by substantial and loveable characters that you can’t help but get emotionally involved with.
This book is heart wrenching at times; the theme of adult mental health and the trials and tribulations of broken family life run strong throughout the story, making it realistic and engaging to read. The prose is naturally funny; taking you on a rollercoaster of highs and lows as Rachel and Phillip’s entwined tales take shape.
This is a fantastic debut novel and I was sad when I got to the end. Emotionally fraught, yet uplifting and hopeful, Beautiful Day is a worthwhile read that will move you to laughter and to tears page after page.