About the book, The House on the Hill
- Publisher : Ruby Fiction (a Choc Lit imprint) (June 28, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 247 pages
The House on the Hill: A Summer in the Algarve
Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?
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About the author, Chris Penhall
Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!
Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
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Whenever I acquire a new Chris Penhall title, I know I’m in for a great read. The third installment in her Portuguese Paradise series, The House on the Hill did not disappoint.
This multi-generational novel focuses on Layla and her Aunt Minnie who run a yoga retreat in Lagos. Each is competent, vivacious, dimensional, but neither has a love interest who will stick – at least when we meet them. But this isn’t a book just about romantic love. It’s about the love we have for our true passion, whether it’s health food (Layla), dance (Minnie) or yoga and general wellness (both). It’s also about the familial love that exists between aunt and niece, and the strong friendships each forms in their community.
Okay, yes, there’s also romance.
What I love about all of Penhall’s books is that they’re never too fluffy. Yes, they exist in a somewhat heightened version of reality where the bougainvillea flowers are a bit bigger, the limoncello is a bit stronger, and the sun shines a bit brighter, but overall the events in The House on the Hill, as with the author’s previous works, are plausible. And that makes the reading so much better, because you can be an armchair tourist in Layla’s (or Minnie’s) life, and never have to expend energy on willful suspension of disbelief.
What really sells this book is the way the author differentiates these characters of such disparate ages. Layla is more focused, and uses more contemporary language, while Minnie is slightly scattered and uses slightly “vintage” syntax. It’s subtle, but it really makes each woman truly breathe.
I should mention that the actual house is also a character in a way, as it plays host to the bulk of the story, and is really the heart of the family – both blood and chosen – that Layla and Minnie have created in Portugal.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants a summer read that feels like a summer vacation. It’s well written, perfectly paced, and leaves the reader truly satisfied (but not so much so that a fourth book in this series wouldn’t be welcome).
Goes well with: a fruit plate that includes pinapples, passion fruit, and plums. Or a green smoothie.