- Book: The Hideaway
- Location: Costa Blanca, Valencia
- Author: Sheila O'Flanagan
A note from the author on location: I first stayed in this area of Valencia nearly twenty-five years ago and I was struck by the colours of the countryside. On the one hand, the zone is quite dry. But the vividness of the orange, lemon and lime trees against the backdrop of the blue skies , the mountains and the sea are simply stunning. Although there are a lot of tourists and ex-pats living in the area, it still retains strong links to both its Moorish and Christan cultures and the (almost daily) summer fiestas are a part of that.
I took this novel with me to read in the very area in which it is set and reading The Hideaway, in situ was an absolute joy. The book revels in location and the author is hugely observant of the way of life in this part of Spain. Yes, of course she features fiestas and oranges and good-looking Spaniards and family intrigues! She burrows down and reveals a delightful understanding of the Spanish life. It was lovely to observe life around me further reflected in the novel!
I am also learning Spanish and the author throws in a good few words that you can add to your vocabulary list. This peppering of words of course also adds an authentic feel to the story
Juno Ryan is in a relationship with wonderful Brad. He goes on holiday without her (theirs is an early days relationship) ostensibly to visit his family in Italy and it is in the aftermath of a major earthquake that she learns he has been one of the victims. The story portrayed in the news reveals another side of his life that he has kept from her – the secret is huge and his betrayal shatters her to the core.
Juno happens to work with Pilar and it is she who offers Juno the Villa Naranja, near fictional Beniflor, just a little inland from the Mediterranean in the Province of Alicante (Costa Blanca). Three months off the world is just the ticket and she is soon settled in, with a visiting cat to keep her company. She finds herself being drilled in the vagaries of local life and soon her own sojourn is under scrutiny – providing interest and curiosity amongst the locals.
Juno takes a short trip to Valencia to visit her landlady and to see futuristic buildings at The City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Santiago Calatrava, situated in the city’s reclaimed riverbed. As a tourist, she even struggles with the city’s traffic systems; I totally concur! It’s a real conundrum to fight your way through the honking and swerving, not something for the faint-hearted!
The author explores the bereavement process in a thoughtful and studied way, as Juno progresses through the stages of her loss. She also has her character reflecting on her place in the world and on her own ways of being which add nice, insightful elements to the storyline. There is also a dalliance along the way….
Juno discovers a little about the history of this villa, built for a nobleman and where also the tragedy of the Civil War struck – there is a certain other-worldly quality about the building.
Juno is described as ‘enjoying reading a book which was partially set in Andalucia during the war, which made it now doubly atmospheric” for her… and of course that is the raison d’être of TripFiction. Enjoying and exploring a location through they eyes of an author.
So, if you are heading to Valencia this is an ace novel to take with you – it will also help you revisit if you want to daydream a little!