The bestselling author of The Villa and The Saffron Trail returns with a gorgeous summer read about love and starting over – set in West Dorset and beautiful Sardinia.
Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.
When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .
If you’re a sucker for an enticing cover and a catchy strapline, then like me you’ll have no difficulty in seeing the appeal of this book. However I’m glad to say that while living up to expectations, it also had an added depth and a darker sub text which made it more than the standard easy beach read.
If I’m honest, it’s the elements of the story that the blurb doesn’t allude to that I found as engaging as the main theme of Faye renovating the crumbling old theatre in the enchanting seaside village of Deriu in Sardinia. Getting to know the inhabitants of the village; the story of the theatre, and meeting it’s owners Marisa Rinaldi and her enigmatic, handsome brother Alessandro was only part of the story. On the other side was the disintegrating marriage of Faye’s parents as they come to terms with what their future holds. This theme offered a balance to the book, on the one side the youthful Faye looking forward to a new career, while her parents are looking back over a life full of secrets and lies. Interspersed with their respective unfolding dramas are the back stories of the Rinaldi family, the theatre and the suffering of the village during the second World War.
What could have been a formulaic romance based on the enticement of a ‘gorgeous summer read about love and starting over’ (and I’m not being critical – to a degree all romances are formulaic) became a more engaging read full of secrets and family drama on all sides. I liked the main characters, Faye was a perfect blend of enthusiasm, confidence and at times self-doubt (ie normal), her parents Molly and Ade were a strange mix – I started as team Molly but warmed to Ade as the story unfolded. The reality is they were both products of their past and became more human as the full picture emerged. The Italian characters, and Alessandro in particular, were more complex and intriguing. There was always a hint of something missing, some piece of the jigsaw that was needed to make the picture complete. As to whether that final piece was ever produced you’ll need to read it to find out.
So with a story that has something to offer all ages, and an idyllic Sardinian setting that lends itself to the perfect escapist read, this book really does hit the spot. Many thanks to Tina at Trip Fiction for a copy of this book as part of their TF Book Club.