Review published on September 1, 2017.
In true Jo Thomas style, The Honey Farm on the Hill has a wonderful location, a lovable but sometimes infuriating heroine, a gorgeous hero and a romance at the heart of it.
Crete is the setting this time and it’s put across so magically it made me want to go there and experience the mountains for myself, to eat in Stelios’ family restaurant, to spin the honey and meet the wonderful characters.
The main character is Nell. She works in a Christmas decoration factory, has a daughter who has just left home and is in a plodding relationship with Mike. But when everything changes all at once and she is at a loose end for a couple of months she decides to be a WOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and returns to the place where she lost her heart when she was 18. This place is Crete and she is to help re-establish a honey farm.
I absolutely loved her hosts, Maria, Kostas and Mitera. They were wonderful, down to earth, honest to goodness people. In fact, with the exception of a couple of characters I loved everyone in this book. The community in Crete is portrayed as being welcoming and warm.
I could see a mile off what was going to happen in the key plots but it didn’t matter. The point was that it wasn’t about a big reveal but about going on the journey of discovery with Nell. She’s a very hot-headed redhead and makes her mistakes, but also does all she can to put them right.
This book is absolutely steeped in atmosphere. There are lots of descriptions of food and the smell of the herbs. There is a wild herb that is crucial to the storyline called dittany. I would love to be able to smell it for myself and to taste the honey that comes from the bees that take the nectar from the flowers. Being somebody that hasn’t spent an awful lot of time around mountains (for that read none) I didn’t find it too hard to imagine Nell’s surroundings and to be completely enthralled by them.
I must admit that I shed a few tears at the end of this lovely story. It could have been cheesy but it just worked and I think that was due to the quality of the writing and my desire for everything to be ok in the end because I really cared about what happened to the characters.
Jo Thomas is a purveyor of dreams. I defy anybody to read this book and at the end of it not to dream a little of the Cretan life. It was one of those books where I was desperate to find out how it ended but didn’t want it to finish. It’s a truly gorgeous read.
Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes 5/4
The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas
Headline Review 9781472223746 pbk Aug 2017
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