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Strange Sally Diamond

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Member Reviews

A story to keep you on the edge of your seat, delving into the depravity of man but also a world of hope and support (so hard not to say too much and ruin it).

We meet Sally Diamond who is definitely strange, although no official diagnoses has been given. She struggles to relate to other people, and prefers to be left alone. Her love of the piano is her only indulgence. When her father dies, a spotlight is shone on her and her history and its a really strange one, one that explains much of Sally's oddness. But for Sally, all this is new news. She will need to find a way to adapt to this information, and uncover her horrific childhood which will continue to haunt her.

Its a story of hope and rebirth on one side, but also of torture and control. So much care has been taken to develop each and every character. Sally is innocent, naïve and untethered. She is desperate to find her way, despite her obstacles, and those around her rise up to offer her the support she needs. There is so much pathos in her story, and we will her to triumph,

Her nemesis is also a victim of circumstance, he is unhinged and controlling, morally misguided, but also so desperate for love, and trying to find his own way. The story should be so sad, and there are moments which are completely horrifying, but the author deftly switches between the dark scenes and ones of rebirth and potential.

Its a complete rollercoaster of a ride, and impossible to put down no matter what emotions they spark. A dark tale I will not forget quickly.

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Strange Sally Diamond is the fifth novel from Irish author Liz Nugent.

Having read the previous four, I should have known better than to let myself be lulled into a false sense of security and assume that Liz had gone in a different writing direction. I actually got to one part and said "ah, there we go" out loud 😂😂

Sally Diamond's Dad has recently passed away. He always joked that Sally should put him out with the bins when he died - and unfortunately, that's exactly what she does.

When news of Sally's actions reach the local village, people are shocked - Sally has always kept herself to herself. But news travels fast - and soon, Sally's past comes back to haunt her in spectacular fashion.

Cold cases, family secrets, and a long lost teddy bear - who is Sally Diamond?

I really enjoyed this, but I like Liz's writing style in general. It's incredibly readable, and I found it hard to put down. I found Sally hard to warm to, but I was rooting for her, and wanted her to be happy. I felt that some of the other characters were a little harsh with her given what she'd been through, but I suppose nobody knows how they'd react in those situations (and I sincerely hope I never find out, thank you very much)!

Warnings galore here, it's incredibly hard to read at times, mainly due to the graphic nature of the cruelty & violence in some chapters. I did have to take a breather from it at times, some of the incidents were really upsetting, so do approach with caution if you find that kind of thing hard to read.

If you like a good thriller, you can't get better than Ireland's women at the moment. They're all playing an absolute blinder, and Liz is no exception. She's an auto-buy author for me, so while I read this on Netgalley with thanks to @vikingbooksuk , I did buy a copy for myself too.

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This was absolutely magnificent, exactly what one would expect from Liz Nugent. Nobody does family dynamics and eerie like her

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Such a hard book to review. On the one hand, I loved the dark subject matter, but at the same time I struggled with the writing style and the endless exposition in the dialogue. The protagonist had Eleanor Oliphant vibes which I didn't mind, but some of the contrivances of the plot were hard to suspend disbelief for - SPOILER the fact that a head of cyber security would send his DNA through the post when he has taken care never to leave a digital footprint was actually ridiculous...he would definitely have seen Minority Report! Also Sally's ability to have SO many friends in such a short time was very unrealistic. At the same time, I could not put the book down and overall would say I enjoyed it.

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This was so good I stayed up most of the night to keep reading!

Strange Sally Diamond once had another name but she doesn’t remember that. Her adoptive mother and father disagreed on when to share the story of her early years and when her mother dies her father takes the action he thinks best. To keep her safe, protected and without the knowledge of where she came from. But at what cost?

When he dies all that Sally knows is their sheltered existence and that needs to change so she can live happily among her community, in spite of her …quirks. But can anyone ever really change? Is life cyclical and do we inevitably revert back to our default?

I confess the ending of this book felt a little rushed compared to the rest of the book but maybe that is because I want to know what happens after, when the dust has settled.

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Had me hooked from the start, a great page turner, would highly recommend.

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.

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I wasn't sure this book would be for me but was proved completely wrong. A really unique, moving, uplifting and sad story.

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I've seen this book absolutely raved about since it was first released. This is unusual and means it must be good.
I got a break in my schedule long enough to bump this up my tbr and have read it in a day. I wasn't able to put it down.
This is a story of characters, Sally at the centre, navigating her way through life after her adoptive father dies. She finds out the truth about her life and why there was an outcry when she 'put him out with the trash' as he requested.
I love Sally and her quirky ways. As the novel progresses and she grows and learns, she falls back less and less on her strange ways as a result of her upbringing and starts to live an unconventional but somewhat normal life.
I felt most for Peter/Steve. His life was impacted so many times over by things out of his control.
There are dark themes within this, but nothing is gratuitous. Being set at some points in the early eighties, misogyny and racism are rife.
Every single character adds to the story and its funny and sweet between the horrendous back story it's covering. A really wonderful read. One that's going to stick with me for some time.

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Sally is a very unusual lady - she takes everything anyone says very literally and does not react well with people. Her father has protected her from life and they live very remotely in Ireland. But then he becomes unwell and dies, and her life begins to change forever. In her 40s she finally discovers the unusual circumstances of her first years that have left her so damaged and then someone from her past gets back in touch, sparking her curiousity and memories.

A really powerful and disturbing book, showing how traits can be learned as well as inherited, and how damaged people can become through their experiences. There are some real villains in here, and some good people, but mostly just ordinary people trying to cope with life the best way they can.

Its a gripping read, and will leave you incredibly sad and angry. I couldn't put it down.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin General UK for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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When Sally Diamond's adoptive father dies her reaction brings the media flocking to the small town she lives in. However the truth of who Sally really is sends the world into a frenzy. All her life Sally has struggled to cope with people and now she has to forge a new life and form relationships. Whilst Sally does well to adjust she is still terrified of the past and now a strange person is contacting her from the other side of the world.
I had always found Liz Nugent's writing a bit histrionic in terms of laying on the dark psychology a little too much and this book has so many reviews calling it dark. However I found it a delight, yes the subject matter should be horrific but is almost seems darkly humorous at points. The story is clever and the little twist at the end works well.

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I loved this book. The Strange Sally Diamond of the title is a grown woman who takes her father’s suggestion of “put me out with the bins when I’m dead” literally and who struggles to make connections with other people. The storyline is unusual and expertly drawn as we follow the heartbreaking and terrifying family history of Sally Diamond and experience her development as she unearths her family history.

It’s set in rural Ireland and the hook for me was in the opening paragraph as it’s exactly what my Irish mum used to say.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, as it is very dark and disturbing in parts. But, it’s so fascinating I practically read in one sitting. It’s also one of those books you know will take a while to leave you.

Congratulations to the author on another excellent read and thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK publishers for the opportunity to preview in exchange for this honest review.

Highly recommend. 5*

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When it comes to characters, Sally ranks among the most brilliantly unique I've ever met. She is quirky, steadfast in her ways but also very lovable – her vulnerability really comes across and despite all the unusual events in the story, you just want to hug her. I enjoyed seeing Sally make new acquaintances and adapt to a lifestyle that was different from her previous one and appreciated the refreshingly honest portrayal of Sally's thoughts and worldview. Seeing her interact with the people in the town, and learn how to live in a world that is structured to throw hurdles in her way at every point was interesting and heartbreaking. A book that'll have you laughing out loud in parts and gasping in horror and dismay in others.

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Strange Sally Diamond is a very darkly written book that I loved from start to finish, very original and very quirky.
Sally’s dad to,d her that when he died he wanted to be put out with the trash so when he dies that’s what Sally does, drags him into the barn in a bag and hauls him into the incinerator. She didn’t know he wasn’t telling her the truth and now she’s in trouble. Sally has spent the vast majority of her life with her father, alone. She is incapable of holding a conversation with anyone and hasn’t mixed with anyone her age. She is good at playing the piano but not with mixing with people, she doesn’t like being touched and she can’t remember any of her life before being seven years old.
This was a really good read that I enjoyed, liz Nugent has managed to being a character like no other I’ve read about before to life and have another story running alongside it and making everything fit together beautifully. The horrors of Sally’s early life is truly horrific and is a very dark read in places, I liked how you can watch sally’s journey without her father and the lengths she goes to, to make her life better.

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In Strange Sally Diamond, Liz Nugent has created a complex and totally original character and one to love. Sally is an Irish woman in her forties who suffered a very traumatic early childhood, one that she now has no memory of. After the death of her mother and the disappearance of her father, she was adopted by the psychologist and his wife, a doctor, who were both responsible for her treatment.

Sally’s adoptive father decided she should not be told of her previous life and, because she was so traumatised, should be brought up quietly through home schooling in a small isolated rural village. She has never gone to college or had a job and, although she leaves the house to shop in the village, she never speaks to anyone and although not autistic appears to suffer from an acquired neurodiverse condition, finding small talk puzzling, especially when people don’t actually mean what they say.

Since Sally’s adoptive mother died, she has lived alone quietly with her adoptive father, but now after a misunderstanding about what she should do with his body after he died at home, the police are on her doorstep and she is suddenly national news, especially once the media finds out who she is.

This psychological drama is often gripping and quite dark in places, but leavened by gentle humour and empathy in Sally’s gradual discovery of the world outside her home. She is as naïve as a newborn, bravely venturing out into the world, with her socially unconscious proclamations causing shock and mirth in equal measure as she forges a path through gatherings of people without a filter of any sort. It’s both moving and poignant to watch her awkwardly navigating social situations for the first time. And just as she is coming to grips with her new life, she starts receiving messages from someone who knows about her past, threatening to disturb her hard won security.

Woven through Sally’s story is another voice, that of a young man on the other side of the world, who has also grown up in isolation due to a disease he was told could be fatal if he came into contact with other people. He has also never been to school or been able to have friends. His story of growing up with his monster of a father is also a dark one and may contain triggers for some people. As he grows older, he begins to question what he knows of his early childhood and the way his father treated his mother before they left Ireland. Although he has also grown up flawed and damaged by his upbringing, it is easy to feel compassion for him, even as he goes on to make horrific decisions based on what he has been taught.

This is a dark and twisted drama with carefully crafted and believable characters. Tense and suspenseful and often creepy, Liz Nugent has delivered a haunting and poignant tale, one that won’t be easy to forget any time soon.

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This is a tricky one to leave feedback for without dropping a lot of spoilers so this will be a short review.

It definitely wasn’t what I expected but I did enjoy it. A little disappointed with the ending.

This was my first book by this author but will definitely look out for more.

Thank you to #NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. #StrangeSallyDiamond

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It wasn't an easy book as I volunteered with abused children and people who spent most of their life in asylums.
I found a lot of these people in Sally, was moved to tears, smiled at times.
Twisty, dark, disturbing. It's an excellent book but it also request to be a little detached from the characters.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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This is an excellent read with very unexpected twists and turns. At first I thought it was going to be like the rash of books which followed Eleanor Oliphant. It's so much more. It tells the story of the aftermath of children being kidnapped and kept captive for years from two different perspectives with conflicting emotions. So often escape seems like the end of the story - in this case it is the start. It was gripping, moving and thought provoking. So many books are forgotten shortly after the last page. I think this one will stay with me for a long time.. Unreservedly 5 stars.

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Strange Sally Diamond is the kind of book you will want to talk about after you've finished.
Initially, I thought Sally would be one of those fashionable characters like Eleanor Oliphant or Molly Grey; quirky and likely on the spectrum. We are told from the outset that Sally is autistic and that little slice of dark humour which brings the world's attention to her is enough to pull you into the story. However, it quickly emerged into a very dark and uncomfortable read as we learned about Sally's background and her biological family. Sally was definitely not the strangest person in her world.
A secondary character became more important to me than Sally and I was on tenterhooks to find out how he would turn out. But with a Liz Nugent book, you cannot take anything for granted and there were twists I didn't see coming.
This book was darker than my usual fare but as much as I was uncomfortable I was compelled to keep reading to the end.

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The less you know the better heading into this one I think! I was completely captivated by this story. It was extremely clever, mysterious, dark but also wholesome. By the end I honestly loved Sally yet starting out I wasn't too sure what to make of her. The small town setting suited this book perfectly and also spoke to me as I am also from a small Irish town. Everyone knows everyone, no one's business is their own, everyone has an opinion. As well as the Irish setting, I thought the introduction of a storyline in New Zealand was a great parallel and a useful tool in getting to know more characters. This was my first Nugent novel but it will definitely not be my last as I adored it!

* Please research any trigger warnings before reading *

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Sally was adopted and doesn’t remember anything of her early life. After her father dies, her mother having died previously, she starts to learn about what had happened to her. He had always kept her isolated and protected her from everyone so she finds it difficult to socialise and make friends.

I felt as though I really knew all these characters, although not what they would be likely to do.
A compulsive read

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