Cover Image: Strange Sally Diamond

Strange Sally Diamond

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Member Reviews

This is SUCH a great book! I loved every page and part of me never wanted it to end. The plot is absorbing and strongly written, with details drip-fed very cleverly to the reader. What makes the book, however, is the protagonist. Sally is such a beguiling character and you can’t help but like her. She’s not perfect, but that makes her seem all the more real.

A really fab read that I would 100% recommend!
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What a brilliant book. 

An original idea, well written and fast paced. I don’t want to give away the story…just read it!
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Wow, what a read. This book is gripping from the start. It was so hard to put down. The storyline just keeps on giving. I can't really say too much without giving away the story. I have given this book 5 stars. It's an easy, fast-paced read and would highly recommend it.
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An excellent and really unusual book. A psychological thriller on one level but also an outstanding character study. Very much enjoyed.
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I am a big fan of Liz Nugent’s writing and I was very much looking forward to reading her new work. It definitely did not disappoint – the plot is as twisted as you would expect from one of her novels with screamingly cruel characters and yet, somehow, it was still filled with some very dark humour. However, you will not be disappointed by the many twists and turns that take place in this novel, the opening lines in itself will be enough to have you gripped and you will struggle to put it down. 
Thank you to Penguin UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read.
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This was a beautifully written book with well thought out characters and plot, but oh, so dark and heartbreaking. 
Read it and weep  then look forward to Ms Nugent's next book!
Thank you to netgalley and Penguin Books for an advance copy of this book
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Looking at the bright colours on the cover, the book’s title, and the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be funny and quirky, much like the book “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” by Mark Haddon. But it turned out to be the darkest, most disturbing book I’ve ever read. (Or at least read all the way through.) Don’t worry - no spoilers!

Sally Diamond is the name given to a young girl when she is adopted by psychiatrist Tom Diamond and his wife Jean. Jean had passed away before the story began.

Sally has a strange background. She was born in captivity, her biological father was a kidnapper and paedophile, and her biological mother was his victim.

Her years in captivity made her socially awkward. She didn’t ever read between the lines in conversation, and she took everything said to her literally.

The story starts with Sally relaying how she put her deceased adopted father’s remains in the incinerator after he had passed away, just as she had once told her to.

Thankfully for Sally, once the death was common knowledge, Sally who at this point had reached 42 years old, was appointed a family friend as a guardian. And it was this guardian who dealt with the authorities, and assured everyone that Sally was not an evil murderer, but simply someone who was very socially deficient.

The story describes how Sally progresses socially, how she gradually learns to make friends, shake hands, and so on. This element of the story is entertaining, and it’s nice to read just how much she comes along.

But then there’s another element of the story…

The other character POV in the book is that of Peter, who is 100% Sally’s biological, slightly older brother.

Before the paedophile could be caught, he had already made a run for it with Peter to the other side of the world. But he brainwashed Peter into believing that he had a rare disorder that meant that if he was touched by anyone other than a blood relative he would die.

I won’t go into details about Peter’s life and memories, except to say that the paedo and Peter then kidnapped someone else, and while that girl was in captivity, Peter worked out that what his father was doing was wrong.

I won’t describe this next part of the story, because that would be a spoiler.

So, I’ll just jump ahead to say that when Peter learns about Sally in the news, he decides to make contact.

There are other characters in the story that serve to make the story more interesting and throw a whole other side to the mix.

There are several definitive themes in the book, primarily misogyny, but also racism, and self-sufficiency. 

The ending was dramatic (no spoilers).. 

There are no rape scenes in the book, but there are scenes of violence and cruelty which I found very disturbing.

I often try to see stories as a fable, even news stories, and I try to see the moral of the story. There are several morals of the story here, I see them as follows:
People should realise that paedophilia is a real issue that people need to be very wary of.
Misogyny and racism need to be seen by all as shameful and wrong.
Children and young people need to be brought up knowing how to socialise, and to learn to become independent.
Life isn’t always fair, things can go from bad to worse, but often there can be hope.
Villains can occasionally have a nice side.

The reason I gave this book 4 stars is because despite the nature of some of the circumstances, it is well written, the story is compelling, the reader feels invested in Sally’s story, and there are lessons to be learned from it.

I didn’t give it 5 stars because I don’t want to encourage people to read it because it was so disturbing, and no one should have to imagine a story like this being played out.
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Liz Nugent Strange Sally Diamond Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Sandycove, 2023

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with this uncorrected proof for review. 

Liz Nugent’s Strange Sally Diamond has introduced me to a writer that I shall want to read again. This novel is a wonderful, but heartbreaking, amalgam of social commentary, detailed and perceptive character development and an intriguing story line. The bizarre beginning —Sally attempts to cremate her father in the household rubbish after his death—  becomes a feature in the news that precipitates a narrative that gradually unfolds the past that has led her to this, to her, normal procedure. 

A world in which a person responds literally to information and advice is uncomfortable, for both the perpetrator and her community. The reason for Sally’s response to the community, friendships, challenges and distressing events is a difficult read, and a journey that some readers might not want to try. It is not an easy journey, but Nugent has written a novel that in many ways demands to be read. Crucial to understanding Sally and her community is recognising the way in which even the seemingly best of acts can be questioned, and in which even the warmest of friendships can be doled out. These are provisos to which Sally cannot relate and is tragically unaware. Even the reader can be bewildered before realising that Sally really is on probation – in the community, to her friends, and hauntingly, to the family who fostered her. 

Kindness, friendship and acceptance come at a price, and Sally learns this over the course of the narrative. To me, this was the crux of the novel, as intriguing as the narrative and characters were. While secrets were being unearthed, characters’ motivations being unravelled, and Sally’s adaption to living life as an acceptable member of the community, the background unease prevails. At times it is almost imperceptible, and a happy resolution seems possible. For some characters perhaps this will occur. 

Sally’s world is filled with hope, and the abandonment of hope. However, a scene that is poignant, but holds the seeds of a positive outcome to the challenges of being part of Sally’s family and its heartbreaking story ends the book. A happy ending of a sort, with the possibility that a tragic family might foster a talented member whose story might challenge the narrative laid down from the past. 

Strange Sally Diamond is a novel with a lasting impact. So many issues are raised, with questions about love and control vying with the practicalities of dealing with mental illness – or is it just an unwillingness to conform? Sally Diamond is a character whose story is difficult to set aside. But it is also a novel in which further investigation of the complexities requires time to deal with the challenges of the first reading. To repeat my first observation, this novel is wonderful but heartbreaking.
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Liz Nugent is always an author who excites me. But when I saw the cover of this book, it didn't immediately grab my attention. But then I started seeing all the brilliant reviews, and I had to dive straight in!

I had no idea what to expect at first, but Strange Sally Diamond immediately grabbed my attention with an immensely likeable character and a very curious story. And then things get weirder and more intriguing and, eventually, very dark! It had me absolutely hooked!

Sally is a really fantastic character and will undoubtedly remain one of my favourites this year! Her story is very unique and quirky, which is chilling at times and darkly humorous at others, allowing you to have a lot of fun while reading it.

I did have some niggles with the ending as I felt like the inclusion of Covid allowed everything to be tied up too quickly, and I had to discuss the ending with another reader to figure out my feelings about how each of the characters' stories ended. But I decided that it was quite fitting in the end, and everything else is so mind-blowingly brilliant that I'm still giving this a full five stars!

Go out and buy this book! You won't be able to put it down!
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Liz Nugent has already proven that she is an impressive writer and her latest novel Strange Sally Diamond is surely one of her best. 

This book starts with the death of Sally's father, her mother having passed away some years earlier.  How Sally manages this event sets a series of events in motion that she could never have expected. As we learn about Sally's past, we begin to understand more about how she has become who she is and we can enjoy her naivety and feel some empathy for her.

This story becomes dark, very quickly and Sally needs the support of all of her friends to process her thoughts and feelings. Thankfully most people are understanding and Sally is able to learn new coping strategies.

Strange Sally Diamond is a chilling story that at times filled me with dread and fear in equal measure; this is not a book that you will forget easily, if ever.
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Completely unputdownable.  I absolutely loved this and was constantly compelled to keep on reading as the story unfolded.  We follow the story of Sally Diamond who attracts a lot of media attention when she puts her dead father in a bin and burns him, she doesn’t understand why what she did was wrong, as the story goes on we come to learn a lot about her childhood which makes us understand why she is so strange.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A deep and dark psychological thriller that you just can't put down. Yes it has its lighter moments and there are some very quirky twists but it will keep you enthralled for start to finish. 
It felt a bit flat in places, maybe that was just the style of writing but you just had to keep going to find out what happened next.
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This has got to be another best seller for Liz Nugent. 
It is a dark, gripping psychological thriller with flashes of comedic humour. Sally Diamond , the protagonist, is a woman in her 40's who according to herself is "socially deficient". She is the product of a very traumatic early childhood that she has no recollection of. When her mother died the two health professionals looking after her adopted her and reared her. She was home schooled and isolated all of her life until her adopted father died, when suddenly she was thrust into the world for the first time alone and without the social skills needed to make decisions. to understand people and their motives  and to cultivate friendships.
This is a beautifully written though heartbreaking story full of twists and turns. It tells of the horrors of childhood not only of Sally Diamond but of her immediate family. It is gripping and moving and very unputdownable,
I loved it.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the advance copy of Strange Sally Diamond.
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Wow wow wow, was this worth the three year wait? Yes it was! Strange Sally Diamond is sure to be THE book of 2023!
Forty something Sally didn't realise it was wrong to put her Dad's body in the incinerator after he passed away, sure he told her to put him out with the rubbish! She immediately attracts the attention of the media with her strange ways and what follows next will shock you! 
My fitbit thought I was doing a workout while reading this book! It was absolutely incredible. Strange, sad, dark and heartbreaking all at once. I cannot recommend this enough.
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book.
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Liz Nugent is by far the most talented author I have ever come across. She has the most fantastic and demented imagination and it makes for unbelievably good stories. I am so honoured to be able to read this prior to being sold and have told everyone I know to get it. To read it. To then get all of her other books.
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Wow, wow, wow, wow! I have read a few really good books lately but this one just blew them all out of the park.
I predict it will be a talked about book in 2023 and I highly recommend it.
5 shiny gold stars *****
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Liz Nugent books are always a cause for celebration.  Her writing is so wonderful, and her characters so realistic.  Strange Sally Diamond was a dark and at times disturbing read, but at the same time, a delight to read.  Sally was a treasure, a 40ish woman who has lived a lonely and isolated life. She has no social experience and takes everything as it is.  I love reading her story, tearing up many a time at what she went though.

Her father told her once that when he died, she should put him out with the rubbish.  So that is exactly what she did. This is the start of a world of change an upheaval for poor Sally.  The police, the media, the small town that she lives in, now all know about her.  More than she ever knew.  She suddenly learns about her traumatic past, and how she became Sally Diamond. And there is somebody else out there trying to get in touch from that past.

As always with Liz' books, I couldn't stop reading.  I wanted to see how Sally would deal with each new occurrence in her life and wanted the best for her.  She was a remarkable woman, and you can't help but love her.

Thank you to Penguin UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read.  Publishes March 2nd.
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Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent is a book about Sally Diamond, who is quite different from everyone else around her. When her father dies Sally does what he told her to do and puts his body in the incinerator and tried to burn it, as they had done with the rubbish. Unfortunately that isn’t what you are supposed to do, you need to register the death and then arrange  a funeral service when the death certificate has been issued.
Sally was adopted by the Diamonds when she was seven and has no recollection of her childhood before then.
 The storyline is about Sally making friends and beginning to live and socialise with her neighbours. It all begins to go wrong when someone else comes into Sally’s life and makes all her progress come tumbling down.
An interesting story about years of abuse by a man who was later known to be a kidnapper of young girls and who abused them. The storyline moves from Ireland to New Zealand and then back to Ireland.
Highly recommended
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Rating:  4.5/5

It is difficult to say too much about "Strange Sally Diamond" without risking spoilers that could undermine the potential enjoyment of future readers and I am always loath to do that.  It certainly deals with some dark themes that have the potential to be very distressing - but, alongside that, it also displays poignancy, genuine warmth, laugh-out-loud humour and the very best of human nature.  I have seen this described as a mystery thriller,  but I would view it more as a psychological character study into coping with and surviving a major trauma.

The characterisation generally is impressive.  The lead character, Sally, is wonderfully engaging.  Despite her social shortcomings she displays a number of innate characteristics that are truly admirable and set an example to those who are supposedly more cultured and "normal".  Other protagonists are also drawn in an accomplished fashion, but for the sake of remaining spoiler-free, I shall say no more than that.

I have read a number of other novels that deal with similar subject matter, but in my humble opinion, Liz Nugent has handled it better than the previous examples I have come across and produced a novel that is thoroughly engaging and darkly emotive.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for supplying an ARC in return for an honest review.
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WOW!!!!! Hooked from the first page and read this book in one sitting… Full of tension and twists. A real page turner, a perfect book but OMG so much more!!!!!
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