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Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story Paperback – April 12, 2016
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"With her magnificent descriptions of Majorca’s beauty and mouth-watering morsels, Anita Hughes takes you on a romantic journey that will leave you breathless. Island In The Sea: A Majorca Love Story is a decadent delight that must be savored!" ―Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, authors of The Status Of All Things
"What a delicious book. Anita Hughes' writing is so rich in detail that you can practically taste the almond cake and smell the sea as you turn the pages. An absorbing read and an utterly delightful escape." ―Cristina Alger, author of This Was Not The Plan and The Darlings
"Island in the Sea is both a sunny escape to a sumptuous Spanish Island and an exploration of the pull of a career against the heady intoxication of love." ―Beth Harbison, author of One Less Problem Without You
"Hughes’ novel will make you feel all warm on the inside, and you may even think the ocean is lapping at your toes with this exotic travel romance. The descriptions throughout will almost have readers feeling like they’ve taken the trip to Spain themselves, and the romance is fierce." ― RT Book Review
“The monuments, fashion and food in Rome in Love transport the reader immediately to Italy's Eternal City. It is both a modern fairytale and a touching homage to Audrey Hepburn.” ―Holly Peterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Manny on Rome in Love
“French Coast is the kind of novel I sink into, a story soaked with glamour, family loyalty tested and love's resiliency proven....Anita Hughes combines a lush setting, family mystery, love and longing in one enchanting story of three beautiful women who are tested and endure.” ―Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Driftwood Summer and Coming Up For Air on French Coast
“Lake Como weaves an artful tale of family secrets, self-discovery, acceptance, and forgiveness. The pages hold a thoroughly decadent journey.” ―Tracey Garvis Graves, New York Times bestselling author of On the Island on Lake Como
“A warm, sparkling and heartfelt novel that explores the power of second chances in life, in love and in following your dreams.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Market Street
About the Author
ANITA HUGHES is also the author of French Coast, Lake Como, Monarch Beach and Market Street. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.
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In Island in the Sea, Juliet, a senior executive at Yesterday Records is tasked by her boss Gideon, a hotshot in the music industry, to fly over from California to Mallorca, in order to put pressure on songwriter Lionel to get some more lyrics under his belt. Lionel has been sitting on a hefty advance for far too long, and after the amazing success of ‘Going to Catalina’ (up there in the rankings with The Girl from Ipanema), Gideon needs a good return on his investment.
Staying at the Hotel Salvia (which actually exists in Sóller and has top ratings on TripAdvisor), Juliet sets about her task with determination, because her job is potentially on the line if she fails. Gideon and Lionel have had a fractured relationship, thus in order to understand Gideon’s creative block, she coaxes him into sharing his backstory – to wit the broken love affair with Samantha and his understanding of Gideon’s part in that break up. The chapters of Gideon’s life are spread throughout the book, and in the intervening down time, Juliet can be found exploring the island and meeting new people. There is Gabriella who is saving up to establish a top restaurant with her soon-to-be fiancé, but has the voice of an angel (if Juliet fails in her mission to encourage Lionel to produce a new hit or two, then her salvation may lie with Gabriella…). And Henry who makes welcome advances to her, but his interest only serves to highlight that she is a woman wedded to the music industry; CAN she allow herself to fall in love? And lovely Lydia, Gabriella’s grandmother, a fashion icon and great cook.
In Tripfiction terms, Mallorca is tangibly rendered through Anita’s eyes, the food, the vistas and the different parts of the island are mapped out like a guide book, from Sóller to Lluc, Banyalbufar and Sa Colabra, and Palma… indeed a snippet about La Seu Cathedral: “It has the most fascinating history. The first stone was laid in 1230 by Jaume 1 to thank God for sparing his ship in a storm and delivering him back to Majorca. But it took almost four hundred years to build and wasn’t completed until 1601“.
The author has previously used the format of developing a story through interview. In French Coast for example she used it in a delightful and fresh way. The Cote d’Azur sparkled, the fashion descriptions heightened the experience of being on the swanky and wealthy Riviera. Island in the Sea, however, feels just a little tired and formulaic. The thread of the story – Lionel’s past life in London – meanders along, pepped up largely by food and fashion. The author takes great delight in describing what her characters wear – Zegna, John Lobb, Canali, Dolce & Gabbana, etc, but repetition got the better of me this time – as did the multiple mentions of fluffy white towels for the post-piscine rub down, and an array of ubiquitous silver sandals (which in the last third of the book morphed into beige slingbacks). There are also a huge number of references to great authors, which served to underline the main characters’ love of a good read – Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe…and more (quite how many authors can be referenced in one single novel?), but peppering the plot with illustrious names did little more than pad out the story, whilst informing the reader that the characters are well-read, intelligent people.
The editing has also slipped in this book – Sting may have a box at Wimbledon, but in fact Wimbledon doesn’t have boxes (unless you happen to be in a player’s entourage; or you are invited into the Royal Box… I live in hope); the Brits don’t have a Channel 2 (it’s BBC2). Early on, the narrative couldn’t make up its mind whether to refer to the Balearic island as Mallorca or Majorca, eventually settling on the latter. The Brits invented the J in Mallorca, way back, (as Anna Nicholas describes in her piece for the Telegraph “You say Majorca, I say Mallorca”) because they couldn’t get their tongues around the double l, pronounced y. As Anna goes on to say: “… the real problem with Majorca, is that for today’s refined British traveller, it sounds common”. Thus, I do wonder about the wisdom of the promoting the book as “A Majorca Love Story“. But I am writing this as a Brit and it may well be a very different perception for an American reader.
The cover? Wonderful colours and lush setting, but I just got the sense the woman on the cover, in her diaphanous white dress, is actually adjusting her knickers.
I do however, look forward to reading Anita’s next novel set on the Greek island of Santorini, a fabulous choice for setting.
Although the book is described as a romance, the relationship between Lionel and Juliet is prickly. He has major beef with her boss, who did him wrong and caused much heartache. He doesn't want to write any more love songs to enrich the man who stole his one chance at happiness. Juliet is career driven and won't give up on her task. She has a brief flirtation with a tennis star but doesn't feel strongly enough to commit to him.
What this book is mainly about is labels. Lionel is incessantly described in detail by what ridiculously expensive clothing he's wearing. I learned more about designers of men's blazers and shoes than anyone needs to know. The women are described by their dresses (colored or floral) and their sandals.
Every character has either brilliant blue or stunning green eyes. The women have long legs, full breasts and tiny pink mouths. I lost track of how many times "Juliet stood on the balcony." And the details of every meal consumed, which are many, were better suited to a recipe book than a romance novel.
In short, the promised romance was drowned in unnecessary details about everything and everyone. I couldn't relate to any of the characters. The repetition of certain phrases and descriptions became mind-numbing after a few chapters.
The one saving grace for this story was the location. The beauty of Majorca and the friendliness of the people there made me want to visit. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save this book.
I feel like “Island in the Sea” is a bit mediocre. Hughes didn’t spend a lot of time setting up the setting for the reader. It is the reader’s assumption that the story takes place in Majorca. I don’t feel like Hughes achieved transporting a reader into the story. I feel like this part was missing. This is a book that I was on the outside looking in and just didn’t find myself falling in love with the story.
I think the story would be so much better if there wasn’t so much name dropping. That really was a big turn off for me. I feel like the focus was more about author names and brand names that there wasn’t much of a story to focus on. It would have been nice to become more familiar with the setting and the characters than what clothes they were wearing.