20 February 2016

Book Review: The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene

"When Rosa and Bee get together in the run-up to Bee's wedding, they reminisce about the holiday they took together as teenagers to the beautiful Greek island of Paros. They remember the sandy coves, the guest house in the converted windmill where they stayed with their friend Iona, and the gorgeous local men. As memories of that long-forgotten holiday resurface, they are forced to confront the turns their lives have taken - and the guilt they both feel about letting Iona slip away from them.

When they learn that the windmill guest house is going bust they form a plan: why not go back to the island and take it over themselves? And so begins a life-changing journey - because it turns out that opening a guest house and reliving their teenage dreams isn't that easy . . ."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

Another book I didn't get around to reading when it was released last year was Vanessa Greene's latest book, The Beachside Guest House. Vanessa has fast become one of my favourite authors - I love losing myself in her stories of friendship, and so when I was dithering last month about what to read, I went straight to this book knowing it was going to be a fabulous read, and I wasn't wrong. It's a beautifully written escapist book, set partly on the Greek island of Paros, and provided some much needed escape as I read along.

It's the story of 2 British girls, Rosa and Bee who decide that they are at a time in their lives when they need to make a change, and so sell up their homes and moves out to Paros to revamp the windmill guest house that they stayed in back when they were teenagers, and make a successful business out of it. They've lost touch with the third friend, Iona, who accompanied them all those years ago, but Rosa and Bee are determined to make a success of it against the odds.

I loved the friendship between Rosa and Bee, it was the perfect best friendship I have read in a long time and you could really sense the love between these two women. They are there for each other through both the bad times and the good, and I was really hopeful that they would be able to make a success of their new business, even when things don't look good for them! Iona does pop up throughout the book, living her own life away from the girls, settled with her boyfriend, but perhaps isn't as happy as she likes to pretend to the outside world. When things start to spiral out of control, Iona realises she's pushed away the two people in the world who would help her through anything, and it's up to her to make amends.

I loved the setting of the island of Paros. Greece isn't somewhere I have visited, but it is definitely somewhere I would look to go for a summer break, it sounded idyllic from Greene's descriptions of it throughout the book. Despite the fact it has fallen into disrepair, the windmill guest house sounds beautiful too, and you can see why the women wanted to return there to relive all their amazing memories. As well as the main characters, there are several Greek characters who pop up frequently throughout the book, some kind, some wary of the new foreigners trying to make their mark, and I felt this was very realistic - after all, you would be concerned about someone new popping up trying to run their own business in your small Greek town!

The book was a joy to read from start to finish, and I did indeed finish it in a matter of hours simply because I didn't want to stop reading. I was totally lost in the world of Paros, and with following the story of Rosa and Bee. As the book goes on and take a more serious turn for Iona, I enjoyed how Vanessa Greene handled the more serious issues, and how friendship runs as the main thread throughout the book, giving each of the women hope when they seemingly have none left. Greene's writing is wonderful, so easy to read, and her vivid descriptions of Paros will leave you wanting to book your holiday here and now! A wonderful book that I highly recommend.

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