Wednesday 4 March 2020

Guest Review: Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

It's time for Beti Winter to dance to her own beat.
After three failed engagements Beti is in desperate need of a fresh start. What better place than the sun-drenched hills of southern Spain?
But it's not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalusian cherry farm where there are cherries to be picked, trees to be watered and her fiery boss, Antonio, to win over.
As the sun toasts her skin, Beti finds herself warming to the Spanish way of life. Embracing the art of flamenco, she discovers there is much to learn from the dance of passion. She just has to let loose and listen to the rhythm of her heart.

Review: Since reading, and thoroughly enjoying, Jo Thomas’s latest book, I have been catching up on her earlier stories and, at the same time wondering how they have passed me by previously. Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard is my latest read. As I am finding with this author’s work, I was quickly transported into the main characters’ world and lost there every time I picked up the book to read.

This story centres on Beti Winter, whose dream has been to own and run a bar in Spain. When she spots an ideal property, she sets off with her savings and latest fiancé to realise her ambitions. However, when her fiancé disappears with her money, she sees her dream floating away. Rather than return to the UK a failure, Beti finds a job with accommodation on a local cherry farm and restaurant, where, as well as washing dishes, tending the trees and preparing for the all important cherry harvest, she becomes immersed in the fortunes of the family who own the business, in particular her fierce boss, Antonio, and his teenager son. As time passes, Beti settles into traditional Spanish ways, learning all the time about the food and customs, and, in particular, about the art of flamenco dancing. She also gradually begins to warm to Antonio as she breaks down his gruff exterior.

At the end of this book, I felt as though I had had a really lovely holiday in Spain and learned a lot about the way of life there, away from the usual tourist activities. There is so much more to growing cherries than I ever knew. So well is the book written that the tension in the family as the harvest approached was palpable and I almost felt myself praying that nothing was going to spoil the cherries. Beti is a marvellous character who I really got behind, feeling for her as she took all manner of setbacks on the chin and grew in confidence with each page of the book. I wasn’t so sure about Antonio, but he gradually grew on me as he did on Beti. I admit that I have never been a fan of flamenco and even avoided it when on holiday in Spain, but after reading this book I feel I have a new insight into the art, and will be seeking it out on my next visit. I would recommend this book to all; in addition to the drama, the story brings with it all kinds of things such as a touch of humour and gentle romance along with the sights, sounds and smells of Spain.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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