ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas @jo_thomas01 @headlinepg #RandomThingsTours
I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas today. I’m a big fan of this author’s writing, The Honey Farm on the Hill being one of my top three reads of last year. My thanks to Becky Hunter from Headline for the review copy and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the place on the tour.
Jo Thomas’s new novel invites you to a special cherry orchard in Spain, where sunshine, romance and family secrets are the order of the day. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews, SUNSET OVER THE CHERRY ORCHARD is a heartwarming, hilarious tale that is ‘like the best kind of holiday’ (Lucy Diamond).
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 sundrenched hills of southern Spain?
But it’s not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalucian 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.
Last year, when I reviewed The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas, I called her a purveyor of dreams. And that’s exactly what she’s achieved once again with Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard. I absolutely adored this wonderful book and would most definitely call Jo Thomas one of my favourite authors.
This time round we meet Beti Winter. She’s got little self-confidence. It’s been eroded over the years by certain members of her family who take every opportunity to put her down. But finally she decides to do what she’s always wanted to do: run a bar in Spain with her fiancé, Will. But things quickly take a downward turn once they are in Spain and Will seriously lets her down.
Enter Antonio. Passionate, fiery and intense Antonio. Beti works at his cherry farm to try and earn money to live her dream but she might just find herself a whole new dream while she’s there.
For a while, the focus of the story is simply on Beti trying to survive in Spain. But about half way through something happens that just felt so right to me, like a jigsaw piece slotting into place. The blurb doesn’t exactly mention this turn of events, but it turns out to be the catalyst for the rest of the story and earned itself a big “yesss” from me. It’s got something to do with the Spanish dance of flamenco, itself a passionate and fiery dance. It brings Beti right out of herself and she finds her own passion.
The characters are amazing. Beti is so strong even though she doesn’t believe in herself. And I absolutely loved Antonio for his spark, his intensity. But there are also lots of other characters, some with bigger roles than others, who I loved. Each one is so well-drawn and plays their own very important role in Beti’s life and story.
There is such a strong sense of place and it’s so atmospheric. I could feel the heat of the sun, the smell of the cherry trees and the paella, the taste of the sangria and the cherry liqueur. I wanted to dive right into this book and be there with Beti, Antonio and co. Towards the end my heart was beating so fast, I felt like I was right there in Andalucía. It was such an exciting finale I was literally punching the air, with a little tear escaping from my eyes and then I heaved a big fat sigh of sheer happiness as I shut the book on the final page.
Well, you might have guessed that I loved Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard. I didn’t want to put it down and it was an absolute pleasure from the moment I started reading right up to the very end. If you want to be transported to another country and another way of life, with fantastic characters and an utterly addictive story, then you really must read this book!
Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.