Book Review: Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life

I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.

Caroline Day ~ Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life


Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It’s just…there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?


This was such a nice book. I honestly didn’t know what to expect because of the mixed reviews, but what I got was the heartwarming story of Hope Nicely and how she sees the world.

A lot of people compared this to Eleanor Oliphant, which I personally didn’t rate, so I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It did remind me of Spoonface Steinberg – a play by Lee Hall. Both characters have a naïve charm in the way they approach life, showing us that love is more important than money or objects.

There did seem to be a bit too much going on in the story as poor Hope has to cope with quite a few traumatic events, not to mention her sad past. Personally the story would have been enough if it had just been about her writing the book and finding her mum; the rest of it made it much less believable.

There are a lot of characters, but we never get to know them that well. This is to be expected as we only see them as Hope does, but there are clearly some interesting back stories there! Danny and his family were a delight, considering they barely knew Hope, they welcomed her with open arms. Although I like to think this would happen, it felt quite unlikely, given the circumstances.

The writing group itself was a really interesting angle and it was good that the author included extracts from the others’ books, which gave the story more depth.

Having Hope’s lessons in the back was a nice touch, considering the lessons themselves were only subtly woven into the story, despite the book’s title.

Overall, the book has a quiet charm; while it’s not a gripping page-turner, it’s a lovely story that makes you very grateful for what you have.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I was provided with a copy by Zaffre Books. All opinions my own.

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