26 Apr Behind The Olive Trees by Francesca Catlow
Escape to Corfu with this atmospheric family mystery
Corfu is such a beautiful island – I’ve only visited once, but in my imagination I’ve been there many times, through wonderfully atmospheric books set on the island.
Behind The Olive Trees took me straight me back to its sunny beaches, hidden coves, pavement cafes and bougainvillea-scented gardens – writer Francesca Catlow captures the beauty and peace of the island while delivering an intriguing story centred around the family dynamics of the heroine of the first book in this trilogy, The Little Blue Door.
I have to confess that I wish I’d read this first – Melodie has already had quite a journey escaping the tragedies of her past to reconnect with her long-lost mother when we meet her at the beginning of this second book.
But if, like me, you’re new to this series, be assured that the author quickly brings us up to speed, so the story is never confusing.
Melodie has found happiness with Greek widower Anton and his 14-year-old daughter Gaia, and is looking forward to her wedding when she discovers there is a squatter living in her mother’s old house.
She despatches the surly young girl, but shortly after the wedding, the girl returns, to establish herself as Melodie’s sister, Keres, snatched at birth from their mother and abandoned by their cruel father.
Melodie welcomes her into her home and heart with open arms. But when things start to go wrong in her life, she finds herself questioning just who Keres really is, and whether her motives in seeking out her older sister are as pure as Melodie would like to believe.
What influence will she have on Anton? On Gaia? Is Melodie’s new happy little family in danger of imploding with the arrival of this cuckoo in the nest?
While the plot of this story moves along quite slowly, the narrative never drags, thanks to the author’s beautifully descriptive writing. The fun of a Greek wedding, the tantalising descriptions of mouthwatering Greek dishes, the haze and heat of the Greek way of living all draw you deep into story.
Once there, you’re held by the characters who now people Melodie’s life – handsome, sexy Anton, his brother Akis, his friends Basil, Michail, Maria and Nikos all spring to life from the pages.
Fourteen-year-old Gaia is a particular joy to meet – fiercely loving, fun, rebellious and starting out on her own life’s journey, she’s an integral part of the story.
And what about Keres? A hero? A villainess? Whatever she is doing, however she is behaving – and often it is badly – she holds us in her spell as surely as she does the people around her.
My one nitpick with this story is the ending which, while bringing the relationship between Melodie and Keres to a satisfactory resolution sets up a spine-tingling, tantalising scenario for what is to come.
Just as I wish I’d read the first book, I wish the writer had already written the third – because there is obviously lots more drama in store.
I’m looking forward to reading it already.
About the Author
Francesca Catlow is a mother of two young children and a carer to her husband, she has created her own publishing brand to produce novels her own way and to create her own work-life freedom.
Born and raised in the heart of Suffolk, she has travelled extensively in Europe with her French husband and, more recently, their two children. Of all the places she’s been, it is the Greek islands that have captured her heart.