Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Audio version

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

When I first heard about Strange Sally Diamond (by Liz Nugent) I was intrigued – Sally sounded to me a bit like Eleanor Oliphant, an eccentric character, probably on the spectrum and finding it hard to fit in with society around her. I would have expected a gentle enough read, quirky, feelgood and satisfying.

Then I heard that it had won the “Crime Novel of the Year” at the Irish Book Awards 2023 and was a bit taken aback – Crime? I thought it was one of those quirky heart warming stories. I could not have been more wrong!

I should have been more alert and taken into account who the author is. I read an earlier book by Liz Nugent – Lying in Wait – and had been taken aback by the dark themes, the brilliant characterisation of the most unlikeable family who, none the less, made us feel a tiny bit sympathetic towards them, despite the dark secret they are harbouring as the story takes on a succession of twists and turns. Lying in Wait by Liz NugentAnother of her books Our Little Cruelties focuses on the recurring theme in her books of unhealthy family relationships in this case extreme rivalry between three grown up siblings.

Surely such writing must be the product of a disturbed mind and yet Liz Nugent seems such a nice person ……..

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Another clue about Sally Diamond came from a Reading Group friend who offered to give me her copy ( yes – give, not lend) – as she found it too disturbing a read to leave lying around her house!

Nevertheless I was intrigued by the strap line :-

 “Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do. To put him out with the rubbish when he died”  

Once I started to read it I could not stop! As dark and disturbing as it is I rallied for Sally and as the awfulness of her backstory emerges there are chinks of light, some lighter moments that come along with her literal understanding of language but the unpredictable undercurrents remain.

It is a horrendous story but the writing and crafting of the story is sublime. There is mystery, there are dramatic revelations which are carefully timed for utmost effect. There is ironic tragedy in the tale of a person desperately seeking connection, yet massively hindered and damaged by their unfortunate upbringing. 

If you are still keen to find out more– go ahead and read it! I promise that Sally Diamond will stay with you for much longer than it takes you to read the book.

Author Liz Nugent

Novels by Liz Nugent on the Libraries NI catalogue


Follow Just Jillian on X (@justjillianblog).