‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’ by Jennifer Bhonet
It’s never too late to live the dream…
Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.
Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.
A heart-warming tale on the beautiful French Riviera, which will keep you guessing.
People who don’t know me that well are sometimes surprised that I’ve always been a sucker for a nice romantic story, especially one set in a hot place.
I’ve written reviews on the genre here before (and sometimes I feel like I’m the last Peter Mayle fan out there.) After all, this is classed as “women’s fiction” so a man can’t enjoy it. But, you know, I like what I like.
This one, though, caught me by surpise.
To be honest, this was not really the novel I had expected it to be. I was expecting some comic misadventures and a women recovering from the swings and arrows of ill fortune with a glass of rose in her hand and a bevy of swarthy Frenchmen sniffing around rejuvenating her dormant passion.
While readers do get almost all of that, what they are also treated to is a much more serious, much better written and much more engaging story than that style of synopsis would suggest.
Carla’s appalling treatment at the hands of her bone headed philandering husband almost had me punching the air with joy when she tells him, “No, I deserve better.” It leaves one quietly grieving for the years of suffering which people have had to put up with without the courage to escape and find their own happy endings.
After all, don’t we all deserve to be the lead characters in our stories?
Additionally, the story which reveals itself may not be startlingly innovative – I think most readers will have sussed where it is going by about a third of the way through, Jennifer Bohnet does a wonderful job of peeling away the layers and explaining why these sort of revelations hit so hard and take so much time to heal.
Bohnet also does a fine job of reminding us that the mores of the sixties were not quite the free flowing, free love bonanza people have been retroactively allowed to believe.
‘The Villa of Sun and Secrets’ is a lovely read for a pandemic. Layered, unexpectedly moving, narrated with wit and charm by the talented Julia Franklin, this does offer the escape and the dream of villas with swimming pools and a cool glass of nice French wine so tantalisingly out of reach to us in our rather sombre modern age. A lovely audiobook.
Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/VillaofSSAudible
Author Bio –
Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including ‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’ and ‘A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.
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