Sunday, 29 July 2018

Two Books to Take on a Cruise to the Canary Islands!

I found it really hard to find any books to take on my cruise to the Canary Islands, because I love to read a novel set in the place that I'm visiting. There's obviously a need for somebody to write some more!
So after a good search on Amazon, I came up with two set in Lanzarote.
They couldn't  be more different from each other: one is an up-to-the-minute picture of a crazy family holiday with lots of thrills and spills by one of my favourite authors, Chrissie Manby, and the other was written in the Sixties by the famous twentieth century novelist, Mary Stewart, whose books I'd never read.
I will start with a  A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby, about the crazy Benson family. (I've already enjoyed A Proper Family Adventure  when I 'sailed' with them to the Mediterranean; you can read my review here.)
However, this book was written first, and here the Benson family are off to Lanzarote for a week, paid for by Jacqui and Dave. It's her 60th birthday, and this will be the perfect opportunity for getting the family together and telling them a secret they've been keeping.
They have two daughters, Ronnie and Chelsea. Ronnie and Mark have yet to tie the knot, but have Sophie, aged fifteen, and Jack, aged six.
Chelsea works in London on a society magazine. She fell out with her sister two years ago, and they haven't been able to forgive each other for what happened.
Bill, Sophie and Jack's great-granddad and Dave's father, is a great character, always forgetting that he is actually eighty-five years old and getting into as much trouble as Jack!
On the plane, Chelsea meets Adam and his daughter, Lily, who becomes a great rival to Jack. One of the best bits of the story is the sandcastle-making competition!
This is a wonderful family novel with comedy and drama. It flows along, and is brilliant for summer holiday reading.
The Wind Off the Small Isles is a long lost novella by Mary Stewart who died in 2014. She was one of the best selling and best loved writers
of the twentieth century. It was written in 1968 with a foreword from Jennifer Ogden, her niece and companion for the last twelve years of her life.
Set in Lanzarote, with a close attention to detail of the volcanic island and its flora and fauna, the story begins in 1879 when a wealthy young woman elopes with a poor fisherman.
Then in 1968, Coralie Gresham, a writer of children's novels, arrives with her assistant, Perdita West, to find a place to settle down and write a rip-roaring adventure about the Barbary pirates. It so happens that Coralie's son, Michael, is also an assistant to a struggling playwright called James Blair. They have come to the island and have found the perfect house at Playa Blanca.
Whilst Cora is taken out to an old shipwreck to research her story, Perdita goes snorkelling and gets trapped in an underwater cave. She is rescued by Mike, of course, but not before they've discovered what happened to the nineteenth century star-crossed lovers.
This is another wonderful holiday read, yet from a totally different angle to A Proper Family Holiday. It gives the full atmosphere of this Canary Island, exploring the relationships of the twentieth century characters against the story of the past.
Although written fifty years ago, I did not find it stuffy and old-fashioned, but fresh and new. As I said, I haven't read any of Mary Stewart's novels before, but I did see The Moon-Spinners, starring Hayley Mills, which I remember enjoying, so I think I'll look out for some of her other books.


  1. Bought a beautiful little copy of Wind off the Small Isles last year (mentioned it on my blog at that time). Recognisable Mary Stewart although very, very short!