Monday 24 April 2017

Book review : Orange Blossom Days - Patricia Scanlan

Set in the sun-bathed paradise that is Andalucia, Patricia Scanlan's Orange Blossom Days is the perfect summertime poolside read. It is a work of chicklit for the older generation - it could be called not-quite-geriat-chick lit maybe?! - featuring female characters who are just as feisty and appealing as their younger peers but whose interests are more focused on family, menopause, retirement and making the most of their finances than booze-fuelled nights out, shopping and lusty summer loving. Although there is plenty of that too - I'd never realised that menopausal hot flushes are hot in more ways than one before reading the book !

The characters are all believable and appealing, with some that you could imagine as a good friend and some that you love to hate. There is a great sense of karma in the book, with everyone getting what they deserve, which is possibly a bit too contrived, but it does make for uplifting, feel-good reading.

The book starts at the AGM for the La Joya De Andalucia appartment complex, where the various owners are voting for the new Presidente, and each of the characters is introduced in rapid succession, making it quite hard to keep track of who is who. The pace slows down after this brief introduction though, delving deep into the past and present of the different protagonists, so that you really feel like you know them and care about them.

We meet Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple who want nothing more than to enjoy a peaceful retirement in sunny Spain, if only their kids can stop making demands on them; Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper and her husband Cal, who have been staying together for the sake of their daughters until his latest betrayal blows apart their equilibrium; the haughty Eduardo de la Fuente, determined to become el Presidente of the complex's management committee so that he can lord it over everyone; and Jutta Sauer Perez, a sharp-minded but aloof German businesswoman, whose less savvy Spanish husband drives her to the brink of despair.

It is by turns poignant and heartwarming, with certain scenes that will make you wipe away a tear and others that will have you grinning to yourself. If you want a feelgood read that isn't too taxing to pack in your holiday suitcase, it's perfect.

You might also be interested to read my review of another of Patricia Scanlan's novels, A Time For Friends. That book gave rise to three #readcookeat recipes, Hilary's Cheese & Bacon Croissants, Biscuit Cake and Hilary's All-in-one Lemon Chicken Dish, and I've taken note of several dishes mentioned in Orange Blossom Days too so I'm sure they will be inspiring a few dinners here at The Madhouse in the near future !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £16.99

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (9 Mar. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471151123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471151125
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4 x 23.4 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.

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