Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby - Review

A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves.

"I've planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don't you join me? Leave behind everything that didn't work out!"

When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat—Kat the adventurer, Kat who spread her wings and took off as soon as they graduated—has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?

Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness.

A story of love, hope, and chocolate, PIECES OF HAPPINESS will reaffirm your faith in friendship, second chances, and the importance of indulging one's sweet tooth.

My Review:

An inspiring tale about the importance of friendship.

Kat and her husband Niklas spent their life traveling and helping less fortunate people.  When it came time for them to retire, they decided to buy a cocoa farm in Fiji.  But before they could really do anything with it, Niklas passed away.  At the suggestion of her housekeeper, Ateca, Kat invites her old school friends to spend the remainder of their golden years with her.  Together they start their own chocolate company while getting reacquainted with each other.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the women and learning their secrets, fears and desires.  I also liked learning about the people of Fiji and their culture.  The story takes you on an adventure and I experienced a full range of emotions while reading it.  It was easy to visualize the scenes.  I also liked that the characters in this story were older.  They were more relatable to me than the younger characters in a lot of other books that I read.

One of many favorite quotes in the book was what Ateca said about the women.  "The ladies in the house are like a necklace made of shells: from the same beach, but each of them a little different. Each one worries for the next one on the string: Madam Lisbeth worries for Madam Sina, Madam Sina for Madam Maya, Madam Ingrid for Madam Kat, and Madam Kat for all of them.

I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley and Doubleday Books

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