First things first, I must confess an interest in this book. Back last October, at a charity auction, the author Jenny Oliver had donated a ‘money can’t buy’ prize of being a named character in one of her future books. My wonderful husband bid lots of money for fabulous causes (Brain Tumour Research and Birmingham Children’s Husband) and I was the lucky winner! I had no clue what the book was going to be about, just that Libby Price would be in it – and that it would be out in May 2016.
I then got to read the blurb on Amazon:
“The ovens are pre-heating, the Prosecco is chilling…and The Sunshine and Biscotti Club is nearly ready to open its doors.
But the guests have other things on their minds…
Libby: The Blogger
Life is Instagram-perfect for food blogger Libby…until she catches her husband cheating just weeks before her Italian cooking club’s grand opening.
Evie: The Mum
Eve’s marriage isn’t working, but she’s not dared admit it until now. A trip to Italy to help Libby open The Sunshine and Biscotti Club might be the perfect escape…
Jessica: In Love with her Best Friend
Jessica has thrown herself into her work to shut out the memory of the man who never loved her back. The same man who’s just turned up in Tuscany…
Welcome to Tuscany’s newest baking school – where your biscotti is served with a side of love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello!”
So not only was Libby Price a named character – she was the main character – excitement overload. The blurb also contained one of Libby’s friends being called Evie – which is one of my daughters (interestingly I found out from one of Jenny’s friends that this was a typo in the blurb, and throughout the book Evie is Eve – but then so is my Evie, legally!) However, there was also an unfaithful rotter of a husband – thankfully not called Mark, which might have been a bit distressing!!
I was very excited on publication date to receive some flowers through the post from Jenny Oliver and Carina (the publishers) and a copy of THE BOOK!
I read the first sentence to my husband: “As the church clock struck midnight, Libby Price was attempting to haul a double mattress up a flight of stairs on her own.”
His response – “well, that’s obviously fiction, you’d get staff to do it”.
So off I went to see what this Libby Price was all about!
I was instantly sucked in to her Tuscan world and what she needed to do to get The Sunshine and Biscotti Club up and running in a slightly dilapidated hotel left to Libby by her Aunt. It also brought about the intertwining lives of her old friends who all rallied round to help her. The descriptions of Italy were wonderful – you could almost taste the limoncello – and the scenery – the hotel itself, the surrounding countryside and the blokes – were perfectly described! Each chapter was told from the point of view of one of the female leads – who all had very different lives now, years on from when they were first mates. I have to say because my reading isn’t devouring a book in one sitting any more (the joy of 4 kids!) I dip in and out – and sometimes I had to go back and re-read to remind myself who everyone was – particularly the male characters, as there seemed to be lots of them, and I don’t feel I got to know them as well as the female ones.
Whilst the book was a lot about friendships it touched on other topics – particularly the Instagram perfectness that many people portray on social media, which isn’t their real life at all.
At the end of the book you’re fast forwarded a full year. I have to confess to feeling a bit short changed – I wanted to know what had happened in the intervening period (I don’t like missing out on the goss!) It concluded nicely – but with enough’what’s going to happen next?’ to make you want a sequel – or to want to go on holiday there yourself!
This is a perfect summer read – even more perfect if you’re sipping on limoncello and nibbling on a biscotti in the sunshine whilst reading it!
Definitely far more perfect summer read then reading about this Libby Price’s exploits anyway……..