Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard is the latest fabulous book by Jo Thomas, and it's not only about food and love, but also about flamenco!!
Beti Winter arrives in the Andalusian resort of Lado del Puerto with her fiancé of five years, Will, to take over the Butterfly Bar, but he gets cold feet and runs away with a band and a new girlfriend, Freya, taking all the money that Beti's grandma left her, and therefore all Beti's hopes and dreams.
The owners of the bar, Harold and Brenda, kindly give her some time to earn the money she needs for the deposit on their bar and so when the burger bar she works in lays her off, she gets a job with accommodation at Cortijo Ana, up in the mountains, near a small village called Colina de Flor.
Her job is to wash up in the restaurant, but she soon runs into the owner of the cherry farm, Antonio, who is known as the horse whisperer, and is better at dealing with horses than people. However, I did feel that he had more than a touch of Ross Poldark about him, especially when he rides over his land on Suerte, his fine horse!
Antonio's aim is to produce the best traditional cherries, needed by the cooperative to fulfil their orders, but he has no money to mend the watering system, so Beti and Miguel, his son, have to do it by hand pump. Miguel is Antonio's son with his wife, Esmerelda, who has gone off with Felipe to realise her dream of becoming a flamenco champion.
Now, Antonio runs the farm and his girlfriend, Vanessa, runs the restaurant, however, the cook, Bonita, who has worked there most of her life, does not like Vanessa's new ideas and recipes.
But in attempt to take over the farm for herself to sell, Esmerelda challenges Antonio and Beti to a flamenco dance off to win or lose the land and restaurant.
How on earth will Beti learn the steps? And is her experience of life enough for her to feel the emotion of the dance? Also does she really want Will back if he returns, or is she becoming more interested in Antonio?
This is a rich engaging story with wonderful escapism in this beautiful Andalusian setting and I could certainly feel the wet grass of the cherry orchard underneath my feet!
I really enjoyed it and I think its the best book by Jo Thomas that I've read so far.