This novel is set in Portugal. I visited Portugal just the once. All I saw of Faro was the airport. I holidayed in the Algarve. I didn’t see a lot of it, it wasn’t that kind of vacation, ;-) but I do remember how hot it was and how sunny it seemed and the rich descriptions in this book did confirm my memories of the area.
This is a competent piece of writing from a confident and experienced novelist who knows how to work and manipulate her readers. There is little to complain of! It’s a satisfying, well constructed story. The historical research is plausible and convincing. The characters don’t leap off the page at you, they are functional rather than three dimensional but they work. A palpable mood is created as the novel progresses. The storyline increases in predictability until about ten minutes from the end when it briefly becomes a page turner with a denouement I wasn’t expecting and loved it all the more for that!
However, (there had to be a however didn’t there?!) my biggest gripe, and I will throw my hands up and say it may be purely subjective, was the structure of the story which was a book within a book method.
I had engaged with what I will call the main story and then a further narrative was introduced in the form of another book. So the reader is forced into a situation of having to read two books concurrently. I am not the world’s greatest multi tasker and whilst I sometimes have more than one book on the go at the same time I am NOT trying to read them at the same time. So I found the second narrative, crucial though it was to the storyline as a whole, irritating and intrusive. I wanted to get back to the main story.
There are many ways of structuring a novel and for me this device didn’t work. I would have preferred the unfolding of the second story to have been inclusive within the main story. But that’s just me maybe. If the thought of that doesn’t bother you then you’ll surely enjoy this book and it makes for a great summer read. If we ever get a summer that is. Or…… you could holiday in the Algarve and take a copy with you?!
I received a copy of this book from Breakaway Reviewers