Talking Location With .. Venetia Welby – OKINAWA
Novel set in Sardinia, Corsica and Surrey (the marital merry-go-round)
2nd August 2015
The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher, romance novel set in Sardinia, Corsica and Surrey.
Octavia and Roberta, two best friends, are settled in the South of England. Roberta is married to Scott, a tremendously successful man, with all the trappings of wealth and status. Octavia is married to Jonathan, a plodder in many respects, pernickety, a bit on the OCD spectrum. Average lives…. Roberta is, however, in an abusive relationship and the author wonderfully renders the iniquitous creep of the undermining behaviour, and the power and mind games. Octavia is the practical one, she runs a nursery, has three children and gets on with life.
Roberta summons the courage to leave Scott, fully supported by Octavia. But in any friendship group, when a couple splits up, the ripple effect can often be felt far and wide. And thus it is that Octavia becomes acutely aware of Jonathan’s habits, quirks and frustrations, which lead her to think about her first big love, Xavi, a Corsican, whom she met when she was teaching on the island of Corsica. It ended years ago, well before she met Jonathan, but she still struggles with a sense of lingering unfinished business; increasingly thoughts of him come to preoccupy her mind.
To add to their woes, Jonathan loses his job and becomes maudlin and ever more picky. But a mutual friend eventually offers him a contract on the island of Sardinia, which is within spitting distance of Corsica. And both Jonathan and Octavia perk up, but for different reasons. When Octavia is offered the chance to accompany Jonathan on one of his frequent trips, she jumps at the chance, not only purportedly to spend quality time with Jonathan but also perhaps to pursue an encounter with Xavi….
Love is certainly in the air, tempered with the routine of daily life. For Roberta, she makes a new start and rebuilds her life after the damaging period with Scott. And what of Octavia? To find out how her story pans out, you must buy the book!
An engaging book, the scene is beautifully set, describing parallel lives of two very different women. The author is adept at describing the humdrum of daily life in a thoroughly absorbing way. About halfway through the story plateaus a little but gains momentum again when the action shifts to the two islands off Italy. Corsica in particular gets a nice write-up in the novel and many places will feel familiar if you know the island. And over on Sardinia you will definitely be left wanting to try sa carapigna ice cream made from lemons and sugar.
An enjoyable Summer read.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Over to Kerry for a few words about the importance of location and she shares her own photos of the time spent living on Corsica:
I got the idea for the ‘island’ setting from my experience of living in Corsica thirty years ago. I worked in a little village in southern Corsica as an English teacher as part of my modern languages degree – I use this real life detail in Octavia’s story. Going off to a Mediterranean island to teach English sounds idyllic but I found it really tough. I lived in a boarding school up in the mountains. During the week, it housed all the children from the surrounding mountain villages but at weekends, they all went home, leaving me on my own in this huge dark school. I was only twenty and had to open about five different doors to get to my bedroom. Half of the time I was too scared to walk down the corridor to go to the loo – and this was before mobile phones and email so I felt very isolated.
The village was very picturesque – just as I describe it in the book – grey granite houses built into the mountainside, with narrow alleyways and steep steps everywhere. There were no other foreigners in the village, so everywhere I went, people knew who I was, which was disconcerting for a twenty-year-old. There was nothing to do in the village, so in the evenings, I’d sometimes go and read in one of the two cafés with all the old men drinking Pastis – I think the average age of the villagers was about eighty! I did learn lots of card games though.
Things picked up when the weather got warmer – I started going to the coast and learning to windsurf. The beaches in Corsica are absolutely stunning – I’ve never seen such clear water. When I eventually made some friends (after about eight months!), we used to sleep on the sand under the starriest skies, drinking beer around the camp fire. In many ways, it was such a simple life but I felt very carefree. It was this feeling that Octavia wants to recapture in the novel, the idea that everything is possible, that she is not constrained by responsibility or convention.
When some of my friends came to visit, we caught the ferry over to Sardinia without a thought for where we would stay. With the insouciance of youth, the first night we ended up sleeping in a rubbish dump in Olbia but finally managed to hitchhike (hope my teens aren’t reading this!) to the most amazing campsite, Isola dei Gabbiani, on the Costa Smeralda. It was right on the beach, surrounded by beautiful rocks and a turquoise transparent sea. As it was Easter, the weather was boiling hot in the day but freezing cold at night. We didn’t have anything as sensible as a tent. Every night we would snuggle down in our sleeping bags in the middle of the maquis – rough scrubland with a fabulous scent of rosemary, sage, juniper and myrtle – and drink evil wine out of a carton to ward off the cold.
I’d love to go back and see how it’s all changed…minus the hitchhiking and evil wine!
Thank you to Kerry for sharing her stories with us! You can connect with her via Twitter, Facebook and check out her website! …and of course come and join Team TripFiction on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and when we have some interesting photos, we can also be found over on Instagram too.
On our blog you can find more books set in SARDINIA that we have reviewed, just click here!