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Romance novel set in Mallorca (“..Majorca is the perfect place to write love songs”)

25th May 2016

Island in the Sea by Anita Hughes, romance novel set in Mallorca.

Anita Hughes chooses location time and again as a colourful backdrop for many of her books… Rome… The South of France… Lake Como… California… and now Mallorca. In each of her books the locale is a character in its own right, and it is clear she has done her research on the ground. Check out her previous titles here.

romance novel set in mallorca

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.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can follow Anita on Twitter and via her website

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