Love, summer, friendships
What I thought:
The House by the Sea is a lovely tale that follows two stories – one set in the present in Devon and the other in 1966 Tuscany. I can sometimes have a problem with these types of books where the narrative isn’t linear as I have found that I end up enjoying one story more than the other. Not the case with The House by the Sea though – not only does each segment last for about 100 pages, giving the reader ample time to become emmersed in that part, but both the present and past are equally wonderful.
The prologe starts in Tuscany in 1966 and sets the scene perfectly for what is to come. Ten year old Floriana lives with her alcoholic father and no mother and spends her summer wandering up to the huge beautiful house and peering longingly through the wall at the gardens she aches to be in. One day she is spotted by 16 year old Dante who brings her inside and there begins a friendship that will last for years.
The story then shifts to Devon in 2009 and Mariana and her husband Grey are gearing up for the summer at their hotel on the cliff by trying to find an artist in residence to help entice guests to earn enough money to prevent them having to sell the hotel. Enter Rafa, a gorgeous 37 year old Argentinian who wows everyone he meets.
As both stories develop we begin to get hints and clues as to how both stories may interwine and to what secret Rafa may be hiding. The cast of characters is varied and vibrant and and I loved getting to know them all (even the brattish Clementine) and following their stories.
I have never read any books by Santa Montefiore before but I will be on the hunt for more now. She has actually written eleven, I believe, and if they are anything like The House by the Sea I cannot wait to hunt them down and get stuck in.
Verdict: A wonderful, magical read. Quite possibly my favourite book of 2011 so far. If you want a great read for this summer then look no further. Highly recommended!
(source: I received this book for review from Simon & Schuster)