by Rosanna Ley
The story starts out with the death of a marriage. I usually don't like that sort of scenario, but it's an obvious one to provide the catalyst for a foreign adventure. Only this one starts out with the wife going home to her family's farm, which has problems of its own. Joanna is a journalist and her job, along with some letters found in the attic of the old farmhouse, lead her to several European cities, starting with Venice.
I have to admit, what I had hoped for from this story was a far more vivid experience of Venice than I got. The story focused more on relationship issues of both Joanna and her sister Harriet and the problems with a mother going senile, plus financial difficulties on the farm. It isn't the sort of story I would normally pick up and at one point I seriously considered skipping to the end.
However, as things developed I got involved in the sisters' separate journeys to find direction. The story became multi-layered with Harriet's adventures in online dating and a stalker who keeps turning up on the farm, plus Joanna's dilemma about whether her marriage should be saved or chucked and some weird shared hallucinations of the people in her letters in the places she visits for her travel article. Then of course there's the mother who keeps calling out workmen to do things they can't afford and the neighbour who is always helpful and coming around to help out. I figured I had him worked out early in the story and it turned out I was right, but the stalker did surprise me.
The travel descriptions were better for Lisbon and Prague, two places I've never been but could go to when travel is functional again. The story balanced somewhere between Romance and Mystery and trying to work out who Emmy was kept me guessing through to the end. Overall I enjoyed the story, though I felt the reveals were being spoon-fed to me. The writing was good but lacked the artistry of a real seat-of-your-pants novel. It might appeal to someone looking for an easy read or beach read.