Saturday, July 17, 2021

My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas


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This was a fun, quick read. Jo Thomas is an English author who reminds me of Katie Fforde novels--contemporary women's fiction with a dash of romance and usually featuring a woman in her 30's-40's.

This novel takes place in Sicily, Italy and involves lemons--which I adore so much. I love everything lemon. Lennie and Zelda are friends who have come to the conclusion that life in England is not going to get better. Neither of them are happy with their humdrum lives. Lennie tells Zelda about an opportunity to move to Italy and live in a small town where they will pay for you to stay and help grow the community. Sounds like a win-win, right? And that pesky part about not finding love? 

Lennie and Zelda made a pact years ago that if they reached age forty without finding true love, they would get married. What could possibly go wrong with marrying your best friend?

Off they go to Italy, and meet a few other people who have also taken the leap and moved in the hope of starting fresh. Only problem is the town folks don't want outsiders moving in, and the houses they were promised are falling down disasters. Someone in the village of Citta d'Ora is pulling all the strings to push Lennie, Zelda, and their new friends out. 

There's also the local legend that says if a marriage doesn't happen in the village every ten years, Etna (volcano!) will show it's displeasure. And wouldn't you know, but that volcano is doing some rumbling...will Lennie and Zelda say "I do", even though it's quite clear they are firmly in the friend zone? Especially when Zelda sees Luca and feels the zip of instant connection...what's a woman to do?

This was a fun, quick read that took me away to Italy. Lemons abound in this novel, and I couldn't help but smell them the whole time I was reading this novel. There are even recipes in the back of the book for lemon-flavored treats. My only annoyance was with Zelda continually talking herself into keeping her promise to Lennie even when it was so very obvious they were not attracted to each other. 

I'll be reading more of Jo Thomas--she's an entertaining writer; romance is part of the story, but it's pretty clean--lots of longing looks and maybe a kiss or two.This novel was all about being true to yourself, taking chances, and using your talents to carve out a new life. 

Rating: 3/6 for a lovely novel set in Sicily, full of lemon groves and a sad, dying town that just needs some loving care to come back to life. Characters are enjoyable and just enough side stories to keep it all interesting and moving towards a satisfying conclusion. 

Available in ebook and paperback. 

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