Thursday, 1 June 2017

Book Review - Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby - Chances Fortnight

Although not the first day of my Chances fortnight, this was the first book I read for it, and to me was the biggest chance of them all. Reading a book about a part of the world I've never really known much about, in addition to the book being translated from Norwegian, made me very nervous as its very rare for me to read translated books. Below you can see how this chance panned out, on new author to me Anne Ostby. 

Amazon UK
Title: Pieces of Happiness
Author: Anne Ostby
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset . Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out! 

When recently-widowed Kat writes to her four old school friends, inviting them to live with her on a cocoa plantation in the South Pacific, they swap icy pavements and TV dinners for a tropical breeze and an azure-blue ocean. Leaving behind loneliness, dead-end jobs and marriages that have gone sour, they settle into the Women’s House, surrounded by palms and cocoa trees; and locals with the puzzling habit of exploding into laughter for no discernible reason. 

Each of the women has her issues to resolve, and secrets to keep. But together the friends find a new purpose, starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness. As they embrace a new culture that views ageing so differently from their own, will they learn to accept and forgive: to discover the value of friendship, and a better way to live?

The incredibly beautiful cover is probably first drew this book to me, without it, I would have probably passed it by which would have been a huge shame. The next thing that drew me in was the mention of the South Pacific, an area of the world that conjures up the feeling of being incredibly exotic, and I just couldn't resist knowing more. 

Having never read anything set in Fiji, and for that matter Norway, were the characters originate from, this story was a complete surprise to me, and its certainly a book I'm very glad I took the time to read. Without realising it, the story was seeping under my skin until I was thinking about it between reading. 

Kat invites her four friends from school to visit and stay in Fiji with her, after the death of her husband. She writes them all such eloquent invitations, that it is hard not to be drawn into the story instantly, while my own desire was to to hop on a plane and fly out myself to join them out there. 

The five ladies are all in their sixties, and as the book progresses we learn about their lives, about their families, and how they have barely stayed in touch with each other over the years. They together start to dream and come up with plans of a new future on the cocoa plantation, but it isn't without its difficulties. 

There are 6 very distinct perspectives in the book, the five friends, and Ateca, who is Fijian and from her view point you see just how different she views things to the women from Norway. She is continually praying for various things, for for guidance for the women. 

I loved learning about the customs of Fiji, and seeing just how different life is in The South Pacific to what I'm used to in England. I found the whole book really fascinating, and it really conjured up a great feel to the islands, the sights and smells, and in general the day to day way of life. 

The ladies have their own things going on to, and there is some ill health to be dealt with, plus some secrets to come out. Nothing was overly shocking, just all matter of fact, which was a refreshing feeling to a book, after I read so many stories that are designed to have you gasping! 

I really enjoyed Pieces of Happiness, a lot more than I thought I might, and am really glad I took a chance to delve into a book that sounded quite a bit different to my norm. Anne Ostby has crafted a really great story, full of highs and lows, and I liked all the main characters, although some of the family members left a lot to be desired. 

Thank you to much to Netgalley and Doubleday for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

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