Review published on May 22, 2017.
If you are fan of Victoria Hislop and her dual plots of a woman escaping trauma in her life to an idyllic island/country and piecing together a mysterious historical scenario linked to the area then you will love this book!
Sophie Taylor is a teacher in London with a beautiful flat and high flying husband Matt. They are planning for a baby. Then, tragically, Matt dies suddenly of an aneurysm. Deep in grief, Sophie is persuaded by her extrovert friend Anna to go for a holiday to Montengro with Anna’s son Tomasz (she is Polish). Rashly (it appears to her family and friends), Sophie buys a run-down stone house on the Bay of Kotor, mainly it seems because she finds a box of unopened letters in some furniture.
So, giving up her job and selling her flat, Sophie moves. But loneliness doesn’t last long as an eclectic mix of local and British characters come into her life, including the handsome translator Darko and Frank, the ex-con builder who promptly moves in with Sophie to do up the property for her!
Meanwhile, the letters reveal a tragic tale of heartbreak during WWII wherein the previous occupant of the house, Mira, has been separated from her husband, Dragan, who was imprisoned by the invading Italian soldiers in Mamula concentration camp. Then, after Anna and her son move in, a further mysterious stranger, German Ton, arrives on Sophie’s doorstep.
There is no mention of Brexit(!), but this novel does more than enough to allow a colourful image of Brits getting on famously with our foreign neighbours, particularly ones in a country that has suffered much under war and changes of borders and governments that affected the former Yugoslavia along the Dalmatian coast.
The writing is light, yet studded with the true dark historical background that feature in such novels. It’s not a bad read, even if the plot is somewhat predictable. But for a summer holiday read (particularly if you plan to go to Montenegro!), it’s well worth a look.
Book clubs would enjoy this too.
Philipa Coughlan 3/3
Under an Amber Sky by Rose Alexander
HQ Digital eBook May 2017
SECOND OPINION: A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith