A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon is a book that I was lucky enough to win a proof copy of in a Twitter competition. Even if I hadn’t received a free copy, this is exactly the type of book that would catch my eye in a bookshop. As always, there will be minor spoilers.
It is an incredibly pretty book with a great title, the most obvious ways to grab attention, but it is the concept that really drew me in. Gina is a woman who has gone through an awful lot – and as much as I hate that cliché, for her, it is true. Starting over, she decides to get rid of most of her belongings and keep just one hundred things.
Even if you’re not a hoarder, this probably sounds like quite minimalist living! It had me thinking about just how difficult that could be and the items I would choose. The concept, however, starts to fall away. At first I was a bit reluctant to drop the idea, then I realised that the novel cleverly mirrors its own story in discarding what isn’t particularly important. There is no need for gimmicks.
Personally, I think people get too hung up about things when actually what they should be stockpiling are moments. […] Moments. Experiences. […] Small everyday things, like – like being outside just after it’s rained. Swimming in the sea. Arriving at a new railway station. Proper paintbox sunsets on summer nights. (p. 246)
I love the simplicity of this quotation, although the novel is far from it. I have never before used the word ‘textured’ when talking about a novel, but that is definitely the word for A Hundred Pieces of Me. It is gorgeous, layered writing. For a fan of fast-moving novels, I found this to be slow-paced, but it wasn’t a bad thing. Just like Gina learning to be more present, I was stopping to appreciate how Dillon was crafting the scene, as well as what was happening. During one scene in particular, where Nick takes photographs of eggs in her hands, I really felt the stillness of it all – and I read on commuter trains!
I will be honest – I was a little bit drained after reading. A Hundred Pieces of Me has a dreamy, almost ethereal quality for the most part, but it deals with highs and extreme lows. If you are looking for a moving novel, and don’t need constant action to keep you interested, give this one a try. There are lighter moments, sad flashbacks, and parts that are completely heartbreaking. This book is truly a hundred pieces of the character, and gathers very nicely those moments we should be collecting.