Friday 10 June 2022

Guest Review: Retreat to the Spanish Sun by Jo Thomas

Eliza has a full house! When her three children grew up and moved out, she downsized to a smaller property... but now they're all back. Every room in the house is taken and Eliza finds herself sharing her bed with her eldest daughter and her daughter's pug. Combined with the online course she's trying to finish, plus her job to fit in, there just isn't the peace and quiet that Eliza needs.

So when an ad pops up on her laptop saying 'house-sitters wanted', Eliza can't resist the chance to escape. She ends up moving to a rural finca in southern Spain, looking after the owner's Iberico pigs, learning about secret gastronomic societies... and finding a new zest for life and love along the way.

Review: I am a big fan of Jo Thomas books and look forward to finding out where her latest release will be taking me. There is always an interesting setting, some delicious fare and at least one romance on the go. The title of this book gives away the general location for the action, but I didn’t suspect that I was going to be given a lesson in production of a very specific food item in sunny Spain. 

The main female character in this story is Eliza, divorced mother of three who finds herself once again sharing her accommodation with her grown-up children who have returned home for various reasons having previously fled the nest. Having downsized after they all left the first time, Eliza is finding conditions difficult when she is also working from home and trying to study for a qualification. An agency advertising for house sitters seems an ideal solution to her problem. Before she knows it, she finds herself in southern Spain looking after not just a house, but also a herd of Iberico pigs and two large dogs on a finca while the owner is away for two weeks. However, her plan to use the time to do some work for her course is interrupted by a series of events as she also gets involved with the local village and the people there. There is also the fact that the owner of the finca, Josep, arrives home unexpectedly and the pair gradually develop a friendship. 

I found this book truly compelling reading from start to finish and can certainly recommend it. I really felt for Eliza as she tried to cope with the crowded conditions at home; it was definitely not what she was expecting when she moved to a smaller place after her divorce. A 2-week stay in a warm climate with time and peace to finish her course seemed like a dream, but she hadn’t counted on the need to learn all the ins and outs of Iberico pig rearing and the guarding of the valuable hams, never mind being drawn into the problems of a local village being smothered by its secret and exclusive gastronomic society. I was absolutely fascinated to learn all about these special pigs which Eliza took to her heart. As well as the animals, the book contains an interesting cast of human characters, including a group of ex-patriots supposedly trying to learn Spanish and some locals trying to make ends meet. The finca owner Josep was initially a rather unfriendly individual, but mellowed with time and I came to like him also. I think it is the sign of a good story that I missed all the characters once I had finished and would love to go back to the village and find out what happened next.

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

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