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Every Shade of Happy

Every Shade of Happy 1

by Phyllida Shrimpton
Publication Date: 29/11/2022
5/5 Rating 1 Review

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RRP  $32.99

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The uplifting story of a man at the end of his life and a girl at the beginning of hers, who reach out across the generations to explore what it means to find happiness, and how to make your own when there's none to be had.

Heartwarming and uplifting, Every Shade of Happy will make you laugh, cry and want to call your grandfather. Perfect for fans of Marianne Cronin and Hazel Prior.

Algernon is at the end of his life.
His granddaughter is at the start of hers.
But they have more in common than they think...

Every day of Algernon's 97 years has been broken up into an ordered routine. That's how it's been since the war, and he's not about to change now.

Until his 15-year-old granddaughter arrives on his doorstep, turning Algernon's black-and-white life upside down. Everything from Anna's clothes to the way she sits glued to her phone is strange to Algernon, and he's not sure he likes it.

But as the weeks pass, Algernon is surprised to discover they have something in common after all Anna is lonely, just like him. Can Algernon change the habits of a lifetime to bring the colour back into Anna's world?

Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Phyllida Shrimpton

Phyllida Shrimpton is a full-time mother of a teenage daughter and currently lives in Essex with her husband, their rescued Newfoundland and small badly behaved Jack Russell.

She achieved a postgraduate degree in Human Resource Management, but soon jumped ship to work with teenagers, including students with Asperger's syndrome, on an Essex-based agricultural college farm before eventually moving to live temporarily in the Netherlands. She is also an artist.

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1 Review

Every Shade of Happy is the first adult novel by award-winning British author, Phyllida Shrimpton. Ninety-seven-year-old Algernon Edward Maybury has been virtually estranged from his daughter Helene for sixteen years, since she fell pregnant, so he’s only ever had a far-off glimpse of the baby that is now his fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Anna. But then he gets a very unexpected call: Helene and Anna need somewhere to live.

Widowed sixteen years, Algernon is very set in his ways, very much comforted by his rigid routine. He still misses Evie terribly, reminded by so many things in their little cottage, a former Essex school house, of their life together and how alone he is now. But eleven years of boarding school taught him how to tuck difficult feelings away and put a lid on them: talking about them is utterly foreign to him.

Trying to reconnect with his daughter seems fraught: “Algernon stayed mute, astonished by his own stupidity. Once again, the right words had come out of his mouth yet the meaning of them had glitched somewhere on the path between his brain and his vocal cords.”

He’s not at all sure how he feels about this child who dresses up in whacky colour combinations, in which she is indulged by her mother, but he imagines the school dress code will likely put a stop to that. Quirky, artistic and vibrant, Anna is unhappy to have to leave her private painted universe behind in her bedroom, to leave her school, her city and all her friends who enjoyed and encouraged her flair with colour.

When they arrive at the cottage, Anna and Helene are shocked to be told that Anna will be sleeping in the garden shed. It turns out to be not so bad as all that: not the bedroom at their former home, but it’s a space she can retreat to. And that turns out to be necessary: at her new school, no one likes her or is interested in her; in fact, they exclude her, laugh at her and seem intent on bullying her, and any colour other than school uniform grey is forbidden.

Behind the old man’s frequently grouchy mood and fearsome eyebrows, Anna sometimes glimpses a granddad she might be able to love, but it’s not until Jacob from No 5 tells her a bit about Mr M. that her interest is truly piqued. Algernon has watched his bright and unusual granddaughter slowly fading, but is surprised that her questions have him sharing his past. They discover that although there may be over eighty years difference on their ages, they have more in common than anyone might expect. Algernon resolves to steer Anna away from the mistakes he made in life.

This touching story is told through alternating narratives from the perspectives of Algernon and Anna, along with flashbacks into Algernon’s past. The author’s note reveals her very personal connection to the protagonists. These are characters that capture the reader’s heart, for all their very human flaws. A story that will draw both laughter and tears, this is a poignant, heartfelt, and uplifting read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Head of Zeus/Aria.

Contains Spoilers No
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