Every Shade of Happy

An emotional, uplifting read that will make you laugh and cry, perfect for fans of Mike Gayle

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on BN.com Buy on Bookshop.org
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date Aug 18 2022 | Archive Date Aug 18 2022

Talking about this book? Use #EveryShadeOfHappy #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


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?

Praise for Every Shade of Happy:
'Heartwarming and uplifting. It will make you miss your grandfather and want to hug your grandchild.' Adele Parks for Platinum
'A slice of reading heaven... Just as wonderful and gorgeous as The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot and The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman.' LoveReading
'With relatable characters, this is an uplifting, emotive story.' Candis

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.

Available Editions

ISBN 9781803281346
PRICE £2.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 98 members

Featured Reviews

I loved it. It is a bittersweet story, poignant, but uplifting at the same time. The events are told from the alternating points of view of the ninety-seven -year -old Algernon and his fifteen -year- old granddaughter Anna. It was heartwarming to see how the curmudgeonly old man and the broken girl get to know and very slowly to love each other.
I liked the supporting characters as well. Jacob, the boy next door is a nice young man who helps Anna get back her confidence, and Anna's mother, Helen finds her place at last and is able to build bridges with her father at last.
This book gives you a warm feeling that remains with you long after you have finished it. I also shed some tears at places.
I can recommend it to everyone. I will look out for the other books by the author.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely love books that feature senior citizens! This one did not disappoint, and I will be remembering the characters for a very long time. The tone is emotionally relevant, and the descriptions are vivid and colorful. The characters of teen Anna And her grandfather Algernon are beautifully drawn and I loved reading how their relationship evolved over time.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy
An emotional, uplifting read that will make you laugh and cry, perfect for fans of Mike Gayle
by Phyllida Shrimpton

Oh my gosh, what a beautiful, touching book. I did cry and laugh. This is one magical book that I will think of again. I felt for the whole family. I wanted to just hug them all. I smiled as I cried through the last page. Brilliant writing.

Was this review helpful?

This book was sent to me by Netgalley for review…thanks to the publisher for the electronic copy. A book of friendship…caring…loving…poignant story wi5 likable characters…talented author at weaving a great story for readers who like a cannot put down book…enjoy…

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy is simply a stunning novel.
Written from a unique perspective that's surprisingly realistic.
Algernon and Anna are such engaging characters that you can't help but want to keep turning each and every page to find out what's going to happen next.
This story made me think of my grandfather more than once.
I cried, I smiled, I thought. And most importantly I loved!
I couldn't have loved this story more than I did.
It was beautifully written.
The characters drew me in instantly.
This book is full of raw emotion, humour and warmth.
Get the tissues ready, this one will make you cry!
A unique and special read that will give you hope.
It will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

Head of Zeus/Aria,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

Was this review helpful?

It’s a long time since I read a book that made me laugh and cry almost simultaneously. This is a beautiful book about relationships, the unfairness of life and (sometimes) beating the odds. I fell in love with the characters as they sprang to life on the page with all their faults, including Gary the cactus. Such an emotional book, but in a good way. I will remember it for a very long time.

Thanks to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I hadn't initially requested a copy of Every Shate of Happy. The publisher sent me a note and "thought I might like it" based on prior feedback. So I re-read the description and thought "why not?". I'm glad that I did!

There are two primary points of view, the grandfather and granddaughter. The daughter has an unplanned pregnancy 15 years ago and parts ways with her father (the grandfather). Her boyfriend evicts her and her daughter (the granddaughter) and they need to regroup and move in with the grandfather.

Things are a little rough in the beginning and its a tough transition, especially for the granddaughter.

I very enjoyable, feel good read. The granddaughter is especially creative and colorful and the grandfather is also talented.

Thank you to the publisher (Head of Zeus, Aria) for reaching out and encouraging me to read the advance read copy of Every Shade of Happy. I was not familiar with the author Phyllida Shrimpton. Some of the author's inspiration came from cleaning out some of old letters from her parents house and finding out things that were unknown to them (fathers military service prior to marriage).

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read Every Shade of Happy in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I fell for this lovely book hook, line and sinker (that’s a lot by the way :)).

A generational story centered around Algernon (a crotchety but redeemable 97-year-old), Helene (his “wayward” estranged only child) and Anna (her 15-year-old daughter who is only looking to express her free-spirited self) as they begrudgingly find themselves having to take up house together. This is told in alternating Algernon/Anna perspectives and works flawlessly that way.

The three must cautiously weave a way through minefields from their pasts to move toward understanding and healing. And while revisiting their pasts, they must also contend with immediate concerns like new jobs, new schools, new bullies and new old-age issues. And yes, Helene is a very important part of the story, but this is above all Algernon’s and Anna’s story…what they learn from and about the other and what they take away from that knowledge.

This author brought these characters to life in such a way that I felt all the emotions, saw all the missteps, heard every sigh and sob as if I were hovering above them in the room. Just that good. And if I had to pick (please don’t make me!), the scenes of Algernon’s boyhood in the countryside of Cornwall were definitely among my favorites…so hauntingly beautiful and poignant as they were.

So much to unpack here, but ultimately I came away with joy, hope and laughter…and a reminder of that most precious connection, fraught though it sometimes might be, between grandparents and their grandchildren.

Highly recommended.

My sincere thanks to the author, NetGalley and Head of Zeus/Aria for providing the free early arc of Every Shade of Happy for review. The opinions are strictly my own.

Was this review helpful?

4 stars
This is a gem of a book! In 1929 Algernon Edward Maybury leaves behind the freedom of his beloved home in Cornwall to become a “catholic gentleman“ in the “care“ of The Brothers and their brand of God and education. This experience moulds him in multiple ways. In the present day (2019) and now a widower, his phone rings which it never does…. Anna and her mother Helene have the rug pulled from under the nice life living with Harry and have no choice but to move in with her aged father who is, of course, Algernon. Anna and he don’t know each other, indeed, they have never met. This is their story.

This is a bittersweet, intergenerational story. Algernon is well into his 90s and is understandably set in his ways. Anna is struggling with the move to Essex to live with him and both their emotions and feelings about their current situation are done very well. There is a wonderful growing understanding between Algernon and Anna based on loneliness, being an outsider and a bond develops and they make their way unexpectedly into each other’s hearts.

The characterisation is very good, they’re all likable even cantankerous Algernon (!) and I especially like the growing friendship between Anna and Jacob who lives next door. Jacob is a fantastic young man and sensitive to the needs of others. Anna is a wonderfully colourful and unique individual and is very easy to like as is Helene.

In parts it’s funny, in others it’s lovely, at times I’m laughing and crying at the same time! Anna, Jacob and Algernon go on a road trip to Cornwall this is one of the best parts of the book as real learning about each other takes place amongst the cream teas! Jam first obviously!

This is a lovely heartwarming tale, it’s not saccharine, well it couldn’t be with Algernon! I like the inspiration, the premise and the message.This has been a joy and a pleasure to read. Thank you to the author for the wonderful experience.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Head of Zeus/ Aries for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Absolutely brilliant! Had me crying and laughing and in stitches. All in the right places. Would highly recommend!

Was this review helpful?

Wowzers! What a truly and utterly beautiful book! This had me crying ugly tears and smiling the biggest smile. Read it!

Was this review helpful?

Heartwarming, sad, funny story about a granddaughter finally getting to know her grandfather.
When Helen's boyfriend dumps her, she and her daughter Anna, are forced to return to Helen's father's house. They have been estranged for years and Anna, who is 15, has never met him. Set in his ways and living a very routine, boring life, Algernon's life is turned upside down by Anna. They learn that they are alike in many ways.
Great story about learning to be who you are and that it is never too late to change.

Was this review helpful?

What a delightful story of family, love, living in the past, loneliness, friendship, finding yourself and hope. This book will stay with me for a long time, and one I will certainly be recommending to friends and family. Algernon, Anna, Helena, Jacob and Evie are believable characters that will steal your heart and take you through a rollercoaster of emotions. I loved it! Heartwarming and thought provoking with a strong message to always live your best life, always be yourself and that ‘death is what happens when we stop living’. Beautiful ❤️

Was this review helpful?

Algernon is a cranky 97-year-old man living alone in a countryside in Cornwall. He hasn’t been an ideal father to his daughter, Helene. He is conservative, has strict boundaries and rigid rules in the house.

Until one summer, Helene and her daughter, Anna, are forced to move in with him. Anna has never met her grandfather due to his disapproval when Helene got pregnant before marriage. Speaking of Anna, she’s artistic and vibrant, who enjoys doodling in her notebooks or books during classes. She also likes wearing colorful outfits.

This book was truly pleasurable and feel good to read. Although personally, I didn’t get to experience living near grandparents nor built close relationships with them. What was so magical about this literary gem?

The author brought these characters to life in such a way that they were likeable and had touched my heart. The relationship of Algernon and Anna was incredibly moving. The dual POV helped me to feel more connected to them. They both made me laugh and had to wipe my tear away. Anna’s POV affected me most. Though she was just a 16-year-old kid, I felt relatable to her for displaying a bubbly and colorful personality. Just like how the book described her - The way she dressed on the outside was reflected how she felt on the inside. It felt exactly like myself! It was surreal feeling with a thought that I was Anna herself.

Overall, it was indeed a heartwarming tale of discovering meaningful relationships in between a grandchild and grandparent that have changed their lives forever.

Was this review helpful?

When 97 year old Algernon takes in his estranged daughter Helene and her 15 year old daughter after a relationhip breakdown .... his comfortable, predictable (but slightly dull) life is turned upside down

As he gets to know his quirky, artistic granddaughter Anna he rekindles  memories of his own youth and they start to make connections.

This is a beautiful and endearing story about both the strength and fragility of family bonds. This is a lovely book, I really enjoyed it. An emotional read, though, a box of tissues is necessary!

Was this review helpful?

Anna has to go and live with the grandfather she's never along with her mum. Algernon had a feisty relationship with his daughter Helene now they're back staying in his house. This is all about the new relationship between Anna and Algernon. Loved it

Was this review helpful?

A charming, light-hearted novel about a teenage girl and a grandfather she has never met, but is now living with after her mother and her boyfriend end their relationship.

I loved this novel. It was so sweet and real. Anna has to adapt to moving as a teenager, leaving her friends and city life, to rural English countryside with her grandfather, who disowned his daughter after she became pregnant. Algernon is an old man, who lost his wife and now has his daughter moving back in. He has not seen her since his wife died, many years ago. He has also never been good with sharing his emotions, but can Anna break through his caustic personality?

Supporting character Jacob adds so much to the story and, in my opinion, once his character started to break through Anna’s tough, reserved demeanor; the story developed even more.

Thank you Netgalley and Aria for this ARC. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would like to do it as a book club book after its release.

Was this review helpful?

What a wonderful book. Lives thrown together, people related but never really knowing each other, life throwing you into chaos and how will you cope. That is this book.

There is humour, there are parts that will make you sad, there are probably even parts you can relate to. The characters are great, Grumpy Algernon makes you laugh and cringe. 15 year old Anna brings youth, colour and innocence to the story and her mother Helene although a big part of the story is a bit of a background character.

The story is wonderful, it flows well, it makes you laugh and cry. It is just one of those books that that you can relate to in some ways as we all have stories to tell. It is heartwarming, inspirational and just a good book to read.

Was this review helpful?

Heartwarming and uplifting this book made me cry and laugh. This is one magical book that I will think of again. I felt for the whole family. I wanted to just hug them all. I smiled as I cried through the last page. Brilliant writing. Five stars!

Was this review helpful?

A lovely read. I requested it for something different to my usual crime/thrillers and enjoyed it a lot. Simple story, uncomplicated read, my life affirming and a good insight into the complexity of family relationships.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. Although it began as a bit slow, it was well worth the read to continue. Algernon is a stodgy Englishman, now in his ninth decade of life, having survived a very strict upbringing. Born to posh parents, he was sent to boarding school at age 7 and that loneliness he endured seemed to be with him his whole life. Living by himself as a widower, he is set in his ways and doesn’t like change. Helene is his daughter who left home when she got pregnant and mother of Emma, the granddaughter whom he never met. Now as they are without a home, they move in with him as he begrudgingly welcomes them. But Emma has to live in the shed in the garden that he has fashioned just for her. Lost and without a rudder, Emma is a free spirit who struggles to belong in her new school and find friends and acceptance, to belong in this world of no color. Algernon seems to recognize himself in Emma and is surprised that she has entered his heart. This is a story of a granddaughter and granddad who struggle to connect and find their way in the world and with each other. To move forward rather than backward. Algernon realizes he has a second chance and strives to help the granddaughter whom he has grown to love.
In this story of hope and second chances, it is so heart-warming and well written. I found myself laughing at times, smiling, and yet also tearing up. Letting go of the past, learning from it, and moving forward to seize the day seems to be the theme here. The characters are charming and I loved the dynamics between the characters. They are so multi-layered that as their character unpeels, you get to like them even more. There is more beneath the surface, some people express themselves better through their actions than with words. This is a feel-good story that is for those who have enjoyed story like “The Story of AJ Fickry” or “A Man Called Ove”. Beautifully written, this is a story that will make you sigh and remember long after the last page. I loved it.

Many thanks to #netgalley #everyshadeofhappy #phyllidashrimpton for the opportunity ot red and review this book.

Was this review helpful?

Algernon is a loveable 97 year old curmudgeon living alone for many years. He is set in his ways and lives life with military precision.

Anna is his granddaughter, and her life is uprooted when she and her mother (Helene) have no choice but to move in with Algernon. Anna is free-spirited, full of color, and heartbroken when she abruptly leaves her home, school, and friends. The day that she meets her grandfather for the first time is the day that she is forced to move into the shed in his back yard.

Algernon's peaceful world is rocked with the arrival of Anna and her mother. Anna's entire world collapsed when she left her former home. Algernon, Helene, and Anna begin with taking baby steps to know one another and to not step on each others' toes. Jacob, a neighbor teen, befriends Anna and helps her begin to make sense of her new circumstances.

Algernon and Anna take a literal and figurative journey with the help of Jacob along as a driver and Helene supporting the adventure from the home front. Regardless of age, all characters grow in the understanding of each other and how to live life in the fullest.

Be ready to have your heart stolen as you read this story.

I was provided a free copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley, Phyllida Shrimpton and Head of Zeus for the copy of Every Shade of Happy. This is my personal review.
This was a book I will always keep in my mind and heart. The author did a beautiful job of making Algernon and Anna so real and make me want to know more about them. Everything about this story was perfect.
This book is one that I will let everyone I know it is a book they will want to read not just once but many times.

Was this review helpful?

Anna and Algernon tell the story of how they change each other's lives in this novel about a family reuniting. Algernon, now 97, and his daughter Helene, have been estranged for years- ever since Helene became pregnant with Anna now 15, He's set in his ways (of course) and Helene has a chip on her shoulder but now she- and Anna- have moved in with Algernon because Helene and her boyfriend have gone kaput, So much adjustment! Luckily, Anna has a good friend in next door neighbor Jacob, and Algernon is open to more than a bit of change in his life, Thanks to netgalley for the ARC It's a lovely novel with good characters and will make you smile (and maybe bring a tear as well).

Was this review helpful?

What a beautiful story, one that offers hope when we stumble in life.
Bringing a multigenerational, dysfunctional family under one roof brings with it the opportunity to assess past mistakes, misjudgements and a chance to find happiness again
Truly a joy to read

Was this review helpful?

This is a wonderful intergenerational story of a crusty old man (97 year old Algernon), his estranged daughter (Helene) who he has never understood and the bubbly, quirky granddaughter he has never met (15 year old Anna).

When Helene’s partner of six years finds a new love, Helene and Anna find themselves evicted from his comfortable, modern home. Until Helene finds a job, the only option they have is to drive 300 miles across country to move in with Helene’s father in his run down cottage. Not only is Anna ripped away from her home and the only father figure she’s ever had but also from the city she knows, the school she loves and her close group of friends. Arriving at her grandfather’s home, she discovers that he is indeed a very old man of few words, set in his ways, who expects her to sleep in his garden shed. At her new school Anna with its strict, drab grey uniform and unfriendly students, Anna finds herself lonely, heartbroken and bullied with all her usual confidence and love of colour and art is sucked out of her.

What follows is a delightful and touching story as Algernon decides he must help Anna find her way back to her bubbly, unique self and not be thwarted from living a full life as he has been. He decides the best way to do this is a road trip to Cornwall where he grew up and hires the boy next door, a senior student at Anna’s school to drive them there in the summer holidays.

Told by Algernon and Anna in alternating points of view, it was lovely to watch the relationship between Algernon and Helene thawing as they come to understand each other better and to see the strong bond growing between Anna and her grandfather. Jacob, the boy next door who befriends Anna is also a lovely character and also helps her to understand how her grandfather has been shaped by the life he has led. A beautiful tale which is in turn funny and sweet and is sure to touch every reader’s heart.

Was this review helpful?

I stumbled across this book through a series of happy coincidences and boy, am I glad I did. Up-lit is one of my favourite genres to read because a happy ending of some kind is guaranteed, but it's always tempered with a hearty dose of reality, which takes it away from the saccharine sweetness of other genres. In Phyllida Shrimpton, I've found another author to add to my list of 'look out for their next book.'

I knew within a couple of pages that the book was going to be a good one and that the author's writing style was one I was going to enjoy. The line that caught my attention was this one:

'A single pillow, where he was to lay his head that night, whispered to him of other schoolboys' nightmares still caught inside its cotton slip.'

For me, it conjured up the most beautiful and heart-rending image that perfectly encapsulated the sense of loss and isolation that the character felt on his first night at boarding school. I seem to have read a lot of books recently that involve young children being sent to boarding school. Many of them have captured that same sense of feeling bereft, but none of the others managed to capture it in a single sentence and I think this is a testament to the quality of this author's writing.

The book opens in 1929 at a moment of change in Algernon's life (when he goes to boarding school) and then shifts to 2019 and another moment of great change in his life, when his estranged daughter (Helene) returns home with her own teenage daughter (Anna) in tow. What I found interesting about this - and what makes it stand out from other books which deal with the issue of the prejudices surrounding unmarried pregnancies - is that Helene was not a teenager when she fell pregnant. It's a small point, but for me as both a reader and a writer, it was another reason to laud the book. It is those subtle differences that make a book stand out because they make it just that little bit different to others which deal with similar themes.

Helene and Anna slowly rebuild their lives but as Anna’s relationship with Algernon develops, her one with her mother begins to deteriorate and she loses all sense of herself. However, with the help of her family and her friend Jake, Anna rediscovers herself and helps Algernon do the same. This section of the book was particularly interesting for me, as the parent of a teenager and a six year old because Anna slowly begins to realise that her mother is not perfect and my own experiences of the different relationships I have with my own children is testament to the authenticity of the difficulties of helping children to make that transition between thinking their parents have all the answers, to realising that sometimes they are floundering just as much as their children are. However, like Anna, my eldest came out of the other side of that transition with a much better understanding of his parents and a far stronger, healthier relationship with them.

Love is the strongest theme in this story and it underpins everything that happens in the book. What makes the book what it is, is that that love is familial and based in friendship, not romance. It explores the fragility of even the most confident and outgoing of personalities and the complexity of parent-child relationships. Through Anna's story, Phyllida Shrimpton perfectly captures the terrors of starting a new school beyond the usual admission years and I could see my own son’s experiences reflected in Anna’s when she uses exterior confidence to mask the crippling self-doubt inside. Ultimately, however, love sees her through these trials and the family dynamic is restored to what it always had the potential to be.

I'm grateful to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book and it's definitely one I'll be recommending to everyone.

Was this review helpful?

This was a truly heartwarming read! Although we have the grumpy - sunshine trope on the grandfather and the kid, it's done in a way that you can't help but feel for the characters. We get the reasons Algernon is the way he is and how he realizes that Anna needs him to move forward with her life. Also, I really liked how the relationship between Anna's mum and her Grandad is presented, I feel it's a good representation of my generation's struggles. I enjoyed this book a lot!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

We can't choose our family but we can choose how we are going to forgive and love them despite their imperfections and mistakes. This book is a heartwarming story of a father, a daughter, and a grandaughter who embarked into a journey of healing, reconciliation, and rediscovery of filial love.

Was this review helpful?

"This little schoolhouse was the place where broken hearts had been mended. It was the place where fragile love had found a way to grow." This book is about a granddaughter who brings warmth and colour into her grandfather's life and a grandfather who brings insight and meaning into his granddaughter's life.
After her long-term partner breaks off their relationship, Helene and teenage daughter Anna end up moving in with Helene's estranged father Algernon. The story is told from two perspectives - Algernon's and Anna's.
Algernon has become hardened over the years. He is aged, lonely and a stickler for routine. Anna's life has been uprooted and she mourns the loss of the life that she had. They begin to get to know each other and form a beautiful bond.
Every Shade of Happy is an emotional and heartwarming read.

Was this review helpful?

I cried, I smiled and loved every moment of this heartwarming and poignant story. it's a story about life, about finding happiness and changing.
Algernon, Anna and the other characters are able to learn to live and not to survived. I loved how they learned and how the author plotted this story.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

Was this review helpful?

We follow Anna, 15 years old, a young teenager full of life, who sees her daily life change abruptly from one day to the next when her mother separates from her stepfather. She has to move away from her room, which has become her cocoon, her friends but also her school. With little choice, they move to Essex to live with Anna's grandfather, Algernon, whom she has never met. Algernon is a centenarian old man who, after having experienced painful moments in his youth, has decided to close himself off. Grumpy, he lives to the rhythm of his carriage clock.

On the face of it, everything opposes Anna to her grandfather Algernon: their age, their generation, their education but also their character. But one thing unites them without them knowing it. At the age of 7, Algernon was sent to boarding school by his parents. While he was a happy and adventurous child, he found himself far from his parents, harassed by his new classmates and mistreated by the teachers. Anna, on the other hand, arrives at her new school where the rules are strict: she can no longer wear the bright colours she likes or dye her hair. In this new school everything is dull and grey, like her new uniform. She is also harassed by her classmates because of her differences.

It is in discovering Anna's problems that Algernon opens up to her, sharing memories from his past including those he has tried to bury as deeply as possible. He even decides to take Anna on a trip to Cornwall to follow in his footsteps.

This is a beautiful intergenerational novel that unites a grandfather and his granddaughter. Behind his grumpy side, Algernon actually has a very big heart, which we discover throughout the novel. He had foreseen that the move would be a difficult one for Anna and had made her a little cocoon to make her feel at home. He is not very good at putting his feelings into words, but he does it by gesture. For her part, Anna discovers that her grandfather is not the man her mother introduced her to. It just takes a little digging to find out who he really is. We find out that Algernon has not had an easy life as his dreams have been slowly fading away.

I was very sceptical when I started reading, I had a little trouble getting into it. But then I gradually became attached to the characters and their story. I wanted to find out more about Algernon, why he had become this bitter person. Anna made me smile and they both manage to give the reader hope.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it.

Was this review helpful?

HOW DARE the author write such an emotional book and make me cry 😭😭😭

I absolutely loved this.
I knew from the title, the cover and the fact that it was about a grandad and his family, that I was going to love this.

Think "Up" minus the house flying away. And Kevin.

It was a beautiful story. I loved the grandad, he was so grumpy but he was so REAL. And Anna, oh Anna, I loved her so much as well. There is so much she goes through but I loved how she was written, how it all ended for her and overall just everything about this was incredible

Was this review helpful?

Bit slow at the start but once it picked up I was glued. Loved the plot, the characters and the setting. Really great character development and loved the relationship between Algernon and Anna . Really sweet ending too!

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely loved this book. It was a delightful read. Algernon an old man takes in his daughter, Helene and grand-daughter, Anna after they become homeless.
He has been emotionally shut down for many decades and unable to open up about his feelings and have any kind of meaningful relationship with us daughter.
Slowly Anna cracks his shell and builds a bridge between him and his own daughter.
A slow but well paced exploration of family dysfunction, misunderstandings, self discovery and real connection.
So relatable in many levels. I will be looking out for more books by Phyllida Shrimpton in the future.

thanks to #NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in advance in exchange for an honest review

Was this review helpful?

When Anna's mum's boyfriend falls for another man, Anna and her mum become homeless and are forced to move in with Anna's Grandad Algernon. Algernon is extremely old, extremely crotchety, and set in his ways. Anna's mum Helene has barely seen her Dad since becoming pregnant with Anna, as he didn't approve of her becoming an unmarried mother. Without Helene's mother, who was the glue who held the family together, Algernon finds himself alienating his daughter and Granddaughter by putting his foot in his mouth too often.

Anna is miserable in her new school, as Algernon was in his strict boarding school, and he suggests a road trip with Anna, and her new friend Jacob - the boy next door - and driver.

This is a brilliantly written and insightful novel, with much of the story coming from the author 's own experiences with her family. Very poignant, and ideal for fans of 'A Man called Ove' I loved this bittersweet story.


Was this review helpful?

Algernon is a 97 year old widower living in Essex. His life is routine based, punctuated by the carriage clock which he got as a retirement present from his office job. However, his 15 year old granddaughter Anna lives in an offbeat world where colour and body art are her main survival aids. Anna and Algernon have never met, but soon their very different lives will collide.

When Anna’s Mum Helene splits up with her partner Harry, they find themselves homeless and having nowhere to live, they relocate to Essex to stay in Algernon’s small home while they get their lives back on track. Anna “the child” is told to sleep in “the shed” but this turns out to be a sanctuary and not the dog kennel that she originally thought it would be.

This heart-warming story is told through three generations of one family, granddad Algernon, daughter Helene and granddaughter Anna and the journey they all go on to get to know each other and to try and face the demons that their past threw at them.
It will have you laughing and crying in equal measure – a really lovely story.

Was this review helpful?

When Algernon’s daughter, Helene, became pregnant following a one night stand his stubbornness refused to allow him to accept the situation or his future granddaughter, Anna.

16 years passed before Helene and Anna, desperately in need of a temporary home, saw him again.

During their stay there’s much Algernon tries and fails to communicate. He’s not used to sharing this thoughts and feelings and struggles to connect.

However he persists and love finds a way.

Beautiful story that delves into the inner lives we live, how difficult those can be to share and the importance of finding a way to do so.

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy, by Phyllida Shrimpton, is an amazing read. It brings all the "feels", both good and bad/sad. A big thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing me with an ARC ebook in exchange for my honest opinion. I don't know what I expected with this one, but it far exceeded anything I could have imagined.

Was this review helpful?

A bit of a slow burner but ended up being a lovely story about family relationships and life in general and how we approach it.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

Was this review helpful?

What a beautiful book this is! I adored every minute I spent within its pages. The characters of 97 year old Algernon, his 15 year old grand daughter, Anna, Anna's mum, Helene and the boy next door, Jacob are all so very likeable. Despite his grouchy personality, Algernon hides a warm heart and one can glimpse this sweet part of his character in several places as the book progresses. It was sad to see Anna spiral from her previously bubbly, quirky and colourful self to a lonely and downcast girl who misses her old life, school and friends when she and her mum are forced to move in with her grandfather. Gradually Anna and Algernon begin to break through their respective hard shells - Algernon has always found it hard to express his feelings - and, along with the boy next door who Algernon employs to drive the car, they go on a trip to Cornwall to re-visit some of Algernon's memories from when he was a young man who flew aircraft, rode his beloved horse and fell in love with the girl who was to become his adored wife. This part of the book was so touching and written so beautifully. Hearts are mended, emotions faced and revealed and love - so much love - is discovered. I absolutely LOVED this amazing book. Thanks to Netgally and the publisher for the opportunity to read an ARC of it and this review is voluntarily given in exchange.

Was this review helpful?

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?

Such a delightful story about family relationships, life and how we approach it. A truly heartwarming and uplifting story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Was this review helpful?

A very touching read that will touch your heart! Nothing but good things to say about Every Shade of Happy!
Thank you NetGalley!

Was this review helpful?

This is a hug in a book.

The development of the characters and their relationship was very heart warming. I enjoyed the story and it’s development.

A recommendation from me.

Many thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for gifting me this arc in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

Can a 97 year old grandfather welcome and accept his estranged daughter and the granddaughter he’s never met when they suddenly need a place to call home? Algernon is set in his ways after living alone for 16 years. His wife was the communicator in their family. He has always struggled to share his thoughts and emotions. He strives to connect with both his daughter Helene and granddaughter Anna and never seems able to say what he really means. Anna feels particularly unwelcome and really misses her friends. She struggles at her new school and feels rejected by her grandfather.

I thoroughly enjoyed this inter generational tale. The pace of the book suited the depth of the breach that needed bridging between Algernon and Helene, as well as the lack of relationship with Anna. The character development felt realistic. The emotions were neither trite nor sappy. This heartwarming novel will make a great book club read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Fall into this book from the very first page. Talk about emotions, you can laugh and cry at the same time.. The characters spring to life and it is lovely to have mixed generations. 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for this ARC

Was this review helpful?

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of the BEST books I’ve read for a long time. Phyllida’s style of writing is lovely. I really got invested in the characters and even after finishing the book, I’ve found myself thinking about it. I read the book really quickly and have to say I shed tears once or twice. Uplifting and sad at the same time. You have a fantastic gift. Thank you.

#NetGalley #EveryShadeOfHappy

Was this review helpful?

A heartwarming book which inspires hope even in situations which at first appear to be in a state of stalemate.
The characters felt realistic and were well drawn and the emotions arising throughout the story seemed well expressed, neither too sloppy nor too harsh.
Although the idea of the book may not always appeal it is a worthwhile read.

Was this review helpful?

Have you ever wondered how people from other generations perceive you? Every Shade of Happy is an intergenerational novel about a grandfather and a granddaughter with a huge generational gap and the many ways they perceive each other — one says she’s too colorful, the other says he’s too gray.

As someone who is very curious about what’s going on inside a person’s mind, I found this book enchanting. The dual POV made me feel like I have two pairs of eyes seeing the world in more ways than one.

Both Algernon and Anna, despite their huge age gap, were aiming for one thing: living. Every Shade of Happy showed me what it means to live life. It helped me identify the difference between ‘surviving life’ and ‘living life’ through Algernon and Anna’s journey. It was a lovely experience!

Overall, I liked the story and the message it tried to imply. I just wish the pacing was faster because it sure is a slow burner. Nevertheless, I would still recommend this heartwarming book. Read it if you’re feeling gray or if you want to add more colors to your life!

Was this review helpful?


Algernon is ninety-seven years old and set in his ways. He follows a routine that he craves and makes the days go by. Algernon is also very lonely.

Anna is a fifteen-year-old who has recently been uprooted from her home. Her Mother's boyfriend called off their relationship to pursue another. She and her mother, Helene, have nowhere to go.... or do they?

Algernon gets a call one day from his daughter, Helene. They have not spoken in years, and he has never met Anna. He agrees to take them in, and they will forever be changed by it.

Algernon and Anna slowly begin to find that they have more in common than they originally thought.

This was such an enjoyable book about starting over, finding your family, growth, love, and connection. I enjoyed every single character in this book. I also enjoyed reading both Anna's and Algernon's voices. This was such a great touch which provided insight into each's thoughts and experiences.

Beautifully told. If this book isn't on your radar, it needs to be!

#EveryShadeOfHappy #NetGalley

Thank you to Head of Zeus, Aria and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Loved this story about 2 very different people connecting.

Anna and her mother need to find a new home and a good place to start is moving in with Anna’s Grandfather, but he didn’t approve of the girl as her mother had her young. Will it work out?

Algernon is set in his routine when his daughter and grand daughter move in, at first they disrupt his routine, but after sometime he gets used to them. He enjoys the company and the friendship.

This is a beautifully written book about the strangest two people having a lovely relationship. 4.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a copy for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy
by: Phyllida Shrimpton
Head of Zeus, Aria
General Fiction (Adult), Women's Fiction
Pub Date: 8/18/2022

Every Shade of Happy is a beautifully written book with a theme of connecting as family for Ninety-seven-year-old Algernon and his fifteen-year-old granddaughter Anna. After circumstances cause Anna to move in with Algernon, they start from the beginning to get to know each other. This intergenerational story is written with heart and has lovely messages to share through its emotionally compelling characters and plot.

Thank you to Net Galley and Head of Zeus, Aria for the advance reader's copy and opportunity to provide my unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

Have you ever felt a deep connection with a book you never expected? This had been this type of book for me, I thought I would just like it but it made me smile and I loved the core of it. It will be in my top list for a long time!
This book is told between different voices, all important, all with their own story to tell. Because even in the beginning you don’t seem to find a connection between Anna, a fifteen young girl, and her grandfather, Algernon, who is ninety-seven. They don’t know each other and it seems that being forced to live together is not a very good idea.
But, sometimes, with the people you seem to have less similarities with, are the ones that you are more similar to; you only have to find the little thread to connect.
This is a heartwarming and inspiring story; it’s not difficult to understand the characters and hope that everything will be better for them. Believe me when I say that these characters felt real and it’s impossible to not love them!
Even if the summer is almost over, this is a book that you’ll enjoy all year around, believe me.
Are you ready to discover “Every Shade of Happy”?

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy - Phyllida Shrimpton. Teenage Anna and her mother Helene have to move back to live with Helene's very elderly father, Algernon, who has never met Anna and hasn't spoken to her mother since her unexpected pregnancy. Algernon is very set in his ways and unhappy with this new disruption to his life, and Anna is very lonely living in the middle of nowhere, friendless and bullied out of her individuality at school. Algernon digs into his own troubled past to try to find a way to save Anna from turning into him. 4 stars, very nice book.

Was this review helpful?

There is so much a young person can learn from an elderly relative (even if they are grumpy!)

Algernon’s wife Evie, his soulmate had died some years ago. Her passing had left him with a broken heart. Helene, his daughter had returned for the funeral but had not brought her daughter Anna with her. Anna’s birth – out of wedlock – had caused a huge rift between father and daughter. However, when Helene’s partner suddenly declares that he has found a new (male) lover with whom he is deeply in love, Helene has no option but to phone her father and ask him if she and Anna can move in with him “just for a short time until I find a job and make enough money to move into a flat.”

Algernon had all the brightness, happiness, and carefree nature that he was born with knocked out of him at a boy’s only boarding school, where punishment with a whip and bullying was rife. He’s never shared that part of his life with anyone except Evie.

Anna, a fifteen-year-old teenager with all the angst that presents itself at that age arrives and must face the challenges of a new school, midway through the year, and all the pitfalls of having no friends to help her fit into not just school but living with her grandfather – a man so close to the end of his life.

Each character must face huge challenges if they are going to make this arrangement work. Algernon must make amends with his daughter Helene and get to know his granddaughter, Anna. Helene and Anna must adjust to living with someone who has lived an exceptionally long full life and is stuck in the past.

It took me some time to understand the characters and their complicated pasts and present issues. However, the storyline slowly brings clarity and peace.


Elite Group received a copy of the book to review.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely loved this book! It truly did not disappoint and it has a special place in my heart. I was very emotional as I read through this. I loved seeing how the relationships developed throughout the book and it made my heart warm up. Such a beautiful read.

Was this review helpful?

This is the perfect feel-good book that will lift your spirits and might even make you cry (I did)! Beautifully written with a wonderful cast of characters; I loved Algernon with his out-of-control eyebrows and selective hearing 😂 Anna was lovely, despite struggling with all the change in her life, and her relationship with her mum, Helene, was just gorgeous. I really enjoyed the trip to Cornwall which strengthened Anna and Algernon's relationship and allowed her to begin to understand her grandfather a lot more. I thought this section of the book was so well written.

If you are looking for a heartwarming and uplifting story then this is it! I’m so glad to have been able to read this book and would love to read more from the author. I rated it 4.5/5 but rounding up to a 5 here.

Was this review helpful?

A story about feelings, attitudes towards them and the effect on relationships across different generations. First impressions are not great from either side when Anna and her mother move in with her ageing grandfather. He resents them coming into his ordered life, Anna hates the changes in her settled life and having to start again in a new place and at a new school. There is, however more to all sides of the story
The book is narrated from different viewpoints and is well told. As the characters reach understanding of each others lives, the reader is taken on their journey. Well written, it feels realistic and the characters are well described and stay true throughout the book. Great descriptions of the Cornish countryside .
A great read
Thanks to Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

Was this review helpful?

Hands down, one of the best books I've read this year so far. So many emotions, I don't quite know what to do with them right now. Sitting here, having a good cry knowing, I won't be able to pick up another book until I cure this book hangover. Perfect book, there isn't one thing I would change in it. If you only do one thing today, make it buying this book and dig in. You won't regret it

Was this review helpful?

Every Shade of Happy

Every Shade of Happy will make you feel every shade of happiness, sadness and every other emotion possible.
It is a sweet and innocent read that highlights both the differences between the generations as well as the abundance of similarities regardless of age or decade.

Algernon and ‘The Child’, Anna, appear to be worlds apart when they first meet. Algernon is old and set in his ways. Anna is young, creative, and a free spirit, so what could these two possibly have in common? Well, as the story unfolds, it all becomes clear. And stranger still, it seems Algernon understands his granddaughter better than her mother.

I like Anna and her spirit, but Algernon stole the show. As the reader, we see the ‘real’ man. Life has hardened him, but we get to know the truth behind his prickly exterior and can’t help but feel warmth for this challenging man.

Unfortunately, there is one aspect I didn’t like at all, Cornish cream tea! This part pained me to read. Lol, It’s cream first, THEN the jam! Lol

Seriously though, there are plenty of cute moments and things that might be simple but add to the lovely story.

My favourites are Gary the Cactus 🌵

Stud the spider 🕷

Anna & Algernon have the same initials (AEW) 🥰

The end is a little predictable, but it’s still a beautiful story that will make your heart smile.

Thank you, Head of Zeus & NetGalley, for the eArc in return for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Algernon is 97 and has a very strict daily routine. Each day is broken down into a highly structured regimen from shuffling to the corner shop to get his paper to feeding the cat (Cat, who adopted him) at 5.30 on the dot. All punctuated by the hideous carriage clock that he was gifted on retirement from a job that he hated. Every day.

Helene finds herself homeless when her partner Harry realises that he bats for the other side. Needing to find somewhere for her fifteen year old daughter Anna to live she has no alternative and contacts her estranged father who was displeased when she became pregnant out of wedlock, with no idea who Anna’s father was. Packing all their belongings into her small car they make the 300 mile trek to the old school house and an unknown reception from her father.

Beautifully written, you feel like you know all of the protagonists in this story. Not just characters on a page but real, fully fleshed, human beings. Crotchety Algernon Edward Maybury reminded me so much of my own grandfather (even down to the hearing aids and glasses!) and the book made me a little envious of Anna in that she got to have such an amazing relationship with him. By the time my grandfather came back into my life he was in the early throes of dementia so it was always a little stressful to say the least.

Every Shade of Happy is the first adult book by YA fiction writer Phyllida Shrimpton and the first book of hers that I have read. I really wasn’t expecting this story to touch me so much. By the end I was laughing and sobbing at the same time. Shrimpton has such a good grasp on what makes each of the individuals tick that the whole thing just feels so real. I’d love to see this picked up for a movie as it deserves a much wider audience than it will ultimately get as a novel.

Supplied by Net Galley and Aria in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This is an absolutely beautiful book. The messages about love, and how it can take different forms are so well done. The journey the Anna and Algernon take together is wonderful and really important for anyone feeling like they are trapped, or life has given them too many lemons to make lemonade. An absolute must read. Thank you so much for the arc

Was this review helpful?

When single mother Helene's relationship comes to a very unexpected end, she has no choice but to move back into her widowed father Algernon's tiny Essex house with her fifteen-year-old daughter Anna in tow. Helene and Algernon have always had a difficult relationship, and he did not handle the news well when she fell pregnant after a one night stand, so this is not going to be easy for anyone concerned.

At ninety-seven-years-old Algernon is used to an orderly life. He is not at all happy about the routine he has settled into since his wife Evie's death being interrupted by the return of his daughter and the child he has never allowed himself to meet. He does not know what to make of colourful Anna and her modern ways. Anna, in her turn, is dismayed by the crusty old man who seems to radiate nothing, but disapproval for her. Missing her old home, school and friends, she finds herself feeling more and more isolated.

But as time goes by, Algernon begins to realise that he has something in common with his granddaughter that makes him reflect on the direction his own life has taken - loneliness. Can he find the courage to break out of the rut he has allowed himself to sink into and help Anna regain her spark?

Where do I even begin with this magical story? Told in alternating narratives from Algernon and Anna, this beautiful book is one that works its way right into your heart. I absolutely loved the way that Phyllida Shrimpton manages to write convincingly about both a crotchety old man at the end of his unfulfilled life and a fragile, sensitive young girl with her life ahead of her, gradually breaking down the barriers between them as they get to know each other and find common ground. Their characters develop ever so slowly over the course of the story, opening up to show you their thoughts, hopes, regrets, and heartache, and their little amusing asides serve to lighten the book in a way that stops it all becoming overwhelmingly sad. There are so many deeply touching and heart-warming moments in this book that I found myself crying on and off almost throughout the whole story - building up to pretty much constant sobbing for the final third of the novel.

The story transforms so wonderfully as we learn about the memories and regrets Algernon has kept hidden, even from his own daughter, and realises that the way he has lived his life is not what he wants for Anna. His acknowledgment that his own behaviour has meant him losing out on so much is so poignant, and his message that you must look forward, not back, comes across so well in the way Shrimpton weaves his story with both Anna's and Helene's. I could spend all day waxing lyrical about the enchanting way in which all the threads come together in such a suburb mix of heart and humour, but I would much rather you read it for yourself, because it is worth every moment. The supporting cast is small, but perfectly formed too - I challenge you not to be charmed by Cat, Jacob and Gary and the way they help everything along nicely.

I completely adored this book. As a first stab at writing for an adult audience Shrimpton has created something truly marvellous to behold, and I cannot wait to read more from her. This really is something very special.

Was this review helpful?

Okay, I’m going to cut to the chase and say I was Team Algernon from the outset. Yes, he may be a little grumpy, rather lackadaisical about washing his smalls and definitely set in his ways but that’s just his way of coping with the world, particularly since the death of his wife, Evie. He feels she’s with him in spirit though, giving him a nudge when needed or the occasional gentle rebuke just as she did when she was alive. I loved everything about Algernon and, although he may be out of touch with modern technology – he favours a map over an app – perhaps he’s not wrong when he asserts a letter, a telephone call or a face-to-face meeting means more than an email, text or ‘like’ on an Instagram post.

It took me a little longer to warm to Anna’s mother, Helene. Initially, she comes across as someone who lurches from one crisis to another. Even Anna admits her mother is impulsive and clumsy, charging into things without due thought. It’s not Helene’s fault that she and Anna have ended up homeless but her precarious financial situation is the reason they’ve had to resort to living with Algernon. However, I came to admire the way Helene gradually gains control of her life, eventually finding something she’s really good at; as even Algernon is forced to admit.

Anna’s love of colour is about more than just wearing clothes of every hue or creating body art, it’s her form of self-expression. When forced to don a drab school uniform, she feels she’s no longer Anna, just a dull, grey version of herself. It’s one of the things, along with the upheaval of a new home, new school and having to leave her friends behind, that makes her retreat into herself, with only Gary her cactus for company. At this point I must mention one of my other favourite characters in the book – Jacob, the eldest son of Algernon’s neighbours – who literally catapults himself into the story variously performing the role of joker, protector, counsellor, delivery driver, cream tea devourer and much more besides. I also loved Jacob’s quirky sense of humour and his endless patience towards Algernon.

Dismiss any preconceived notion that Every Shade of Happy is the simple story of young Anna melting the heart of her grumpy old granddad because it’s much more nuanced than that. Although Anna and Algernon may appear to be running on parallel lines and that never the twain shall meet, in fact they have more in common than either of them thought. They just need a bit of guidance and encouragement to find out what it is. My first weepy moment was when an additional armchair was ordered – yes, really – and there were plenty of times after that I found myself reaching for the tissues.

There is a real warmth to the story perhaps partly because, as the author reveals in the Acknowledgments, the book is an ‘ode’ to her father whose wartime experiences were similar to Algernon’s, as was his reticence to talk about them.

Every Shade of Happy is a wonderfully affecting story told with warmth and wit.

Was this review helpful?

What I was hoping for: A story about friendship across generations.

What I liked: Due to the two POV, Anna’s and her grandfather Algernon’s, we get a good insight into both their thoughts and feelings. This way, it is very good to realise that both their lives have been upturned and both struggle. I appreciated that it was also discussed how Helene helping Algernon make him feel like he is losing some reason to live and move about.

What I did not like: At times, the book felt rather long and drawn out. It is shown very clearly that Algernon lives mainly in the past but after a while, his remembering the past events – which somehow were all sad and depressing – was too much for me. The switch to Anna’s viewpoint and story helped to get the book moving because I would otherwise not have continued.

Conclusion: After reading the author’s note at the end, I got a much better understanding of the intent of the story and with that information, I was better able to appreciate it. Without it, I actually would have ranked it lower due to the overall depressed tone especially of Algernon’s story and the long-windedness.

Was this review helpful?

"Every Shade of Happy" focuses on the relationship between an elderly grandad and his teenage granddaughter. Algernon is perfectly happy in his well-ordered life, living in the same house as he did with his deceased wife Evie. When his estranged daughter Helene and granddaughter Anna come to live with him, a rocky period of adjustment takes place. As Anna and Algernon work through misunderstandings and differences, they find many things they hold in common. Anna learns a lot about the secret recesses of her grandad's life, and Algernon finds happiness and some little adventures with the colorful and artistic Anna. Readers should be prepared for tears as well as laughter in this book that bridges the gap between generations. The alternating point of view takes a couple of chapters to get into, but it is worth persisting. Be sure to read the author notes at the end for information on how this tender story originated.

I received this novel from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: