This article originally appeared in The Sunday Independent on 26th March 2017
Warm stories of family and friendship under a hot Spanish sun
Fiction: Orange Blossom Days Patricia Scanlan, Simon and Schuster, €19.60
It is 25 years since Patricia Scanlan's City Girl was published and became a bookshelf staple, inspiring a nation of young women. You would be hard pressed to find an Irish female over 40 who does not remember the feisty protagonist, Devlin, or her journey to success. Scanlan has remained one of Ireland's bestselling authors with over 20 titles under her belt and a loyal following. Her latest novel shows that her readership has matured alongside her.
Orange Blossom Days is based around an apartment complex in southern Spain where residents escape from routine and soak up their surroundings.
Within the small community there is a hidden hive of activity, both front-of-house and behind closed doors. There is the Irish couple who are preparing to enjoy their retirement and foresee days of golf, spa treatments and no pressures; "All the stresses of rearing the girls and running a business and a home had taken their toll over the years".
In the next-door penthouse is a wealthy Texan who is not shy about coming forward and is gearing up to leave her cheating husband; "She was married in name only and had been for a long time. It was time to face reality".
Downstairs is Eduardo, who bought his small apartment to escape the heat of Madrid and perhaps persuade his wife to stop her feminist nonsense and assist his aging aunt; "What was wrong with his wife? Was she ill? A brain tumour perhaps, or the beginning of dementia?". Meanwhile, rental-property consultant, Jutta is focusing on turning a profit. Independent and resolute, she dreams big and is determined to get what she wants.
This is a charming look at the realities of overseas property ownership. From the early 2000s, when having 'a place in Spain' was achievable to anyone with access to a bank manager, right through to the darker days of the recession when the economy collapsed, the fictional gated-community is brought to life with Scanlan's warm and humorous writing style.
She shows that times have changed for her readers and the days of sitting back and enjoying middle-age in comfort are not what they used to be. Her character's responsibilities have shifted from the workplace and home to caring for grandchildren and elderly relatives; while marriage-survival and menopause are the new hot topics.
However, friendship and family are themes that remain the same. A delightful and engaging read.
*(c) Sunday Indo Living