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The Spanish House
by Cherry Radford
Review

THE SPANISH HOUSE

Cover Image of the book 'The Spanish House' by author Cherry RadfordJuliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck.

Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfils ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward.

But little does Juliana realise that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbours’ – who include a ruggedly handsome but moody artist – may be harder than she thinks.

Cover Image of the book 'The Spanish House' by author Cherry Radford

CHERRY RADFORD

Image of author Cherry RadfordCherry was always going to be an author when she grew up, but meanwhile she was a keyboard player in a band, a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet School and then a post-doctoral research optometrist at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital.

FINALLY the inspiration arrived and she started her first novel – in a coffee break at a scientific conference! Nowadays she divides her time between her writing and a few lovely piano pupils.

Cherry writes uplifting novels about identity, renewal and finding soulmate romance when you least expect it. Having inherited a love of Spain and its culture from her half-Spanish mother, all her novels have a Spanish connection or setting.

The Spanish House is the first of three stories set in the starkly beautiful and unspoilt Cabo de Gata coastal region of Andalucía where she is now lucky enough to live with her family.

Keep up to date with all Cherry’s news at her website

Follow Cherry on Twitter

Connect with Cherry on Facebook

Cover Image of the book 'The Spanish House' by author Cherry Radford

FIRST LINES

ONE

The girls weren’t even talking loudly. Later, they’d wonder how they were heard, above the clatter of the District Line. They’d explain that all they did was find themselves sitting next to each other, saying hello-I-mean-hola, and then chatting in Spanish – as members of South Ealing Spanish Practice Meetup do. In next to no time, it seemed, the lads lurched down the carriage to them and a fag-stained finger was wagging inches from Juliana’s face.

‘Stop that fu**in’ stupid language! You’re in England!’

Juliana looked up to meet the half-closed eyes of a tall and swaggering Fag Finger and his potato-faced sidekick.

‘Sorry if it bothers you,’ she said. ‘We’re getting out soon anyway.’

Cover Image of the book 'The Spanish House' by author Cherry Radford

MEMORABLE LINES

“You are not an “extra” here in Spain. It’s not enough to just turn up; you have to start involving yourself – ripen from the inside out like the Raf. Only then will your time here be truly special – and the house become yours”

.

“This was one of the problems of having a thing for your neighbour; it seriously cramped your lack of style”

.

“Seems you don’t always need lots of education to be wise”

Cover Image of the book 'The Spanish House' by author Cherry Radford

REVIEW

“One Spanish summer, one huge family secret”

Author Cherry Radford has written a sweet and poignant romance, with a light touch of mystery and suspense; which took me, along with Juliana, on her delicious journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

Those opening lines all help to set the scene for this summer of discovery and a lifetime of change. Relatively short chapters kept the pace of the storyline fluid, seamless and fast moving; and as you might expect, all those little loose ends were neatly packaged and tucked away by the end, for that happy-ever-after feeling.

The story was definitely three dimensional, being equally plot and character driven; whilst having the added advantage of that third and all important quality, a genuine sense and essence of time and place, which was rich in cultural and social atmosphere, with a real community atmosphere, making it fully immersive, thanks to the lovely observationally detailed  and vibrant, descriptive narrative, together with  some compelling and perceptive dialogue. A real bonus for any summer “deckchair traveller”, is having an author who is fully invested in the location they choose for their storyline to unfold and the authenticity of the characters they then introduce into that environment and Cherry has that one totally nailed!

The premise tells you in a nutshell the bare bones of this story, so not wishing to reveal too many additional spoilers, I’ll probably not say any more and spoil Juliana’s journey for anyone else. The list of conditions Uncle Arturo sets for Juliana to complete in her allotted time, at first glance appear random and unrelated. However it turns out that the list has been compiled with a great deal of thought and consideration, with the intention of testing Juliana’s suitability and commitment to inherit his coastal property in some depth, with the tasks forcing her to face her past, long forgotten memories, assessing her strength of character, morality and judgement. She also has to prove she is able to adapt and fit into a small rural community, to become as one with them, without forcing them to change in accommodating her.

In some bittersweet moments, Juliana also has to discover, uncover, face up to and own, several personal facts from her past, which have hitherto been kept from her, albeit ostensibly for her own good, although she has often questioned the validity of the stories she has been told. Often raw and passionate moments of reflection, challenge her emotions to the max. How she chooses to deal with them and heal any rifts and cracks which affect relationships with her inner circle of friends and family, is a much deeper challenge, which Uncle Arturo also hopes she will now have the maturity to deal with. Juliana has plenty to learn about herself and her own resolve and stoicism, whilst adapting to take other people’s feelings and motives into account.

This well structured, multi-layered storyline was beautifully textured, immersive, filled with some sweet moments of heart and humour, and authentically written with an assured, intuitive ease of style and confidence, by an author who knows her characters inside out and exactly where she is taking her storyline. At times profoundly touching, emotional and compassionate, there were also some amusing, laugh-out-loud moments and dialogue exchanges, which Cherry wove into the fabric of everyday life, with great care and thoughtfulness. Especially when Juliana meets the ruggedly handsome artist who lives next door. Their on/off friendship literally switches tempo minute by minute, hot Spanish emotions flare and Juliana is not impressed when it transpires that he too is hiding something from her. Emotions run hot and cold, as they play a game of cat and mouse, which neither really has the heart for, as their eventual fate has so obviously been inexorably sealed from that very first meeting, if only they will take the time to allow their relationship to flourish naturally. It just needs Juliana to step back, take some time to consider her options in the cool, calm manor which Uncle Arturo expects of her and make her final decision that’s right for everyone, not just herself.

A cast of well developed and defined, engaging characters, totally owned this storyline and had been given a huge voice to tell their story, directing and guiding events, with just the slightest helping hand from their creator. Genuine and believable, some vulnerable and complex, they were all authentic, addictive, totally worth investing in and easy to relate to. On the whole, there was a great synergy between them, as they welcome Juliana into their midst, which made this a reading experience to savour slowly and totally indulge in.

In the summer Spanish sun, does Juliana get her house and her man in the end? – Now that would be telling!

This light summer read, kept me engaged and entertained; provided some good moments of enjoyment and escape from reality; and of course the emotion of the storyline was totally evocative – job done Cherry!

Image of author Cherry Radford

A complimentary kindle download of this book, for review purposes, was made available by the publisher Aria and Aries Fiction and supplied by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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16 comments
  • Well you know how I feel about romance, but I have to admit this one sounds really good. The cover is great, too! It just might have to go on my wishlist!

    • There is a good secondary plot running alongside the romance, which adds to the intrigue.

      If you also enjoy books with a real sense of location and the essence of its people, this book really delivers on that brief!

      Definitely one worth future consideration!

      Thanks for taking time to comment though, I really appreciate that 🙂

  • Not exactly my cup of tea, but the storyline does seem quite intriguing and Cherry seems like a very intelligent and creative writer. Like Kelly, I love the book cover design. Thank you, Yvonne, for another beautiful review.

    • The cover is lovely, isn’t it? Just how I imagine a Spanish Casa to look in a small village!

      I did enjoy Cherry’s approach of turning what could very well have become a standard ‘Mills & Boon’ style romance, into a story with much more depth and meaning. Her writing is really descriptive and draws the reader in!

      It wouldn’t do for us all to enjoy the same genres of books, where would the fun be in that? We would have nothing to chat about and wouldn’t be able to recommend those great new titles we come across.

      Thank you for taking time to engage with the post though, you know how much that means to me 🙂

    • It’s an area the author knows really well and that definitely comes across in her writing. You really get a feel for the place and the people!

      Apparently Cherry has another book ‘The Spanish Garden’ ( not a sequel to ‘The Spanish House’), coming out next year, so I shall be looking out for that one.

      Thank you for stopping by 🙂

    • Now you have me intrigued about the things that put you off considering this book – do spill! 🙂

      I know that in general, you prefer your romances to be historical and that, this one is most definitely not.

      It is really rather good that we all enjoy such a diverse range of genres and authors though, just think how boring life and reading would be otherwise 🙂

      • For example: ‘Stop that fu**in’ stupid language! You’re in England!’ It put me off. Also an on/off friendship and “Spanish temper” are two more things that make me less inclined to read the book. It seems a bit of a cliche.

        • Aw! Sorry if I put you off reading the book, that definitely wasn’t my intention!

          The opening lines are from a group of yobs who are harassing Juliana and her friends as they are travelling on the underground to go to Spanish lessons. The action is all set in Spain after the first chapter.

          Juliana is half Spanish and her new neighbour is definitely all Spanish male. When Juliana discovers that he has been tasked with keeping an eye on her, she loses the plot and they end up in a very hot-headed shouting match.

          I don’t want to give away any more spoilers, but the narrative and dialogue are definitely not too cliched!

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and I’m sorry if it was anything to do with the way I have written the review.

          I hope that my next book is more to your liking and have a lovely weekend 🙂

          • Aww, do not worry, it’s nothing to do with the review. Actually is better to see these things and avoid books I might not like. Liking or disliking a book is very personal and subjective. Happy weekend. xx

            • I agree that reviews are always very subjective and personal. It’s surprising that authors set such great store by them, but I guess it’s a trade off between getting the book noticed and hoping for good reviews!
              Enjoy your Sunday 🙂

  • I actually love this kind of thing as light reading. I read a couple in the summer, mainly based in Italy and France if memory serves so Spain would make a nice change. I’ll mark it as a possible for the European challenge next year, which I plan to do again after a year away from it. Very nice review, Yvonne!

    • Aw! thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate your support and it is good to have you stop by again 🙂

      As you say, I too enjoy a storyline with a bit of romantic interest, either contemporary or historical, as occasional light reading and neither are genres I would be searching out on too regular a basis.

      Cherry really does set the scene really well with her beautifully descriptive writing, so I think this would be ideal for your European challenge. She has also written ‘The Spanish Garden’, not a sequel to this book, which publishes early in 2022, so that one might be worth looking out for too, just to give you a choice!

      I have more or less retired from all challenges and memes and tend to now concentrate on reviews. At the moment that is working out much better for me personally, so we’ll see how it goes. At least I am managing to get my NetGalley and Goodreads backlogs down a little!!

      Have a peaceful weekend 🙂

  • This one sounds great and the cover is very pretty. Juliana sounds like an interesting character. I like the Spain setting, I’ve never been but would love to visit one day.
    Wonderful review as always.

    • The cover is very eye-catching, isn’t it?
      I do try not to judge a book by its cover, but that is becoming more and more difficult, as there are simply so many new books hitting the shelves right now, that a stand-out cover is going to be the first thing which will make me stop and take a second look at a book!

      The setting is so beautifully described that I could almost imagine myself there, along with Juliana and I think I would probably fall in love with it as much as she did and want to make it my home.

      I have only visited mainland Spain a couple of time, as my sister-in-law and her family had thought to emigrate there a few years ago. They did stay for three or four years, but then decided to return to the UK, even though they had a lovely home there.

      Thank you as ever, for your valued support, kind words and comments. I appreciate them so much and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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