The Sunshine and Biscotti Club
by Jenny Oliver
Publishing Date: 19th May 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!.
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Moving to Italy to set up a baking club is a dream come true…
…until Libby catches her husband cheating just weeks before The Sunshine and Biscotti Club opens its doors.
With the first wave of guests set to arrive any day, Libby has no choice but to tie on her apron and get set to bake. But with a dash of sunshine and a sprinkling of old friends, Libby’s kitchen nightmare might just become the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
After all, you can’t bake biscotti without breaking a few eggs…
For guaranteed sunshine all holiday long, pack your bags and escape to The Sunshine and Biscotti Club – the irresistible new book from Jenny Oliver!
I requested the book first thing from NetGalley because I had a feeling that it’s winking at me, saying: read me! I just had a feeling it is just drawing me somehow, with its beautiful, sunny cover and lovely title, and well, it’s by Jenny Oliver, whose books I’ve already read and loved.
Each chapter is told from the different character’s point of view, and I liked it very much, as it gave us a great perspective and let us know their thoughts. Libby is a food blogger and owner of the Hotel Limoncello and has just discovered that her husband has been cheating on her. I had a feeling that Libby would give him a chance but well, she hasn’t had a chance to give him this chance, as he decided he’s out of this relationship and moves out. There is still a lot of work in the hotel before it’s opened in a few weeks, so Libby’s long – time – no – see friends come to her rescue. Among them is Evie, mum to twins, married to Peter, and the visit to Tuscany couldn’t come at a better time – even though Evie and Libby weren’t in touch lately and the friendship seems to have cooled down a little – as Evie and Peter have just gone „on a break”. And Jessica – with her own company, up to her nose with her work, in love with one of their friends but – unfortunately – he has married another woman. Very quickly I started to feel a little confused who is who, why, who they liked, who they didn’t like and why and what was the kind of relationship between them, and each time some of the characters entered the scenes I needed to concentrate really hard to remember who they were and what their role was. Maybe there were just too many characters? We have three main female characters and four, maybe even five, male characters, and all of them had their stories. Yes, they intertwined, but not all of them and not too much.
Yes, I had my problems with the characters, but overall they were nicely drawn and rounded – they were not perfect, they had their problems and flaws which only made them feel more realistic. I just didn’t warm to any of them, that’s my problem. I didn’t get any long time friendship vibe from them, to be honest, and I had a feeling that they just suffer in their own company. There were more misunderstandings and understatements between them that I could bear to be honest. I didn’t see any special dynamic between them, they mostly hide things from each other and I just had a feeling they don’t feel comfortable in each other’s company. And also, the names of three of them began with „J” – Jake, Jamie, Jessica – for me it was confusing, personally I think with such number of characters the author could differentiate them (and really, I’ve never thought it’s going to be a problem for me one day. Well, the day has come.) However, it was nice in a way to see how they tried to return to how they were before, how they shared so many memories that kept them somehow together, but still, in my opinion they didn’t open enough throughout the whole story.
I am also not sure what the story was about, to be honest. Yes, it was a gathering of old friends, all of them with problems, and it was about renovating an old hotel, so they were helping one of the friends, broken hearts and new relationships but I really didn’t get this story. I just couldn’t find this main thing, the why this book was written and about what.
However, I absolutely, totally adored the setting of this story and the word „limoncello” is right now my favourite word, I think. It so much reminds me of sun, sunshine, lemon, hot summer and cicadas. Limoncello and biscotti. Sound so lovely and so promising, no? The setting of Tuscany was perfect and the author has truly captured the beauty and uniqueness of the place, and the idea of having a hotel there, and offering cooking courses was brilliant. The descriptions of food were delicious and incredibly vivid, and truly, the food parts were written with so much love and feeling and I am very disappointed that I don’t have a cherry tree in my garden! Also, the way the author has presented the whole place and nature to us was excellent, I could easily see all the places in my mind, smell the scents, enjoy the warm nights under the moon and yearn for skinny – dipping. I would love to spend my holidays in the hotel – not necessarily with this group of people.
So „The Sunshine and Biscotti Club”, with its lovely, colourful summery cover may be a great sunny season read for you, of course! It has potential, it has a warm vibe and it has its great moments, so it’s probably me that have a problem, so pay no attention and just give this book a go. It just screams „holiday read”, so really be sure to pack it in your suitcase and enjoy it wherever you are spending your break!