House of Dreams by Fanny Blake
Release Date: 2nd June 2016
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
In the hilltop villa with its spectacular views across rolling countryside to the straits of Gibraltar, Lucy anxiously awaits the arrival of her brother and sister.
They’re spending the weekend together to say farewell to Casa de Sueños, the house in the mountains of southern Spain where they grew up.
Her sister, Jo, landing at the airport with her fractious four year old, dreads the prospect of this time with her family which will fulfil their mother’s last instructions that they celebrate her birthday together. Only this time their mother won’t be there.
Tom, their brother, remembers the chaos of his bohemian upbringing and wants nothing more than for their stay to go off without a hitch. Then a beautiful face from his past appears at the villa . . .
Over one long, hot week weekend, past secrets will spill out, making the siblings question themselves, the choices they’ve made and where their future lies in this gorgeous new novel from Fanny Blake.
Siblings Lucy, Jo and Tom have agreed to spend one last weekend at their gorgeous home in southern Spain before bidding the idyllic villa goodbye. Following the death of their mother, Hope, the three siblings have agreed to carry out one of her wishes, which was for her three children to gather at the house in Casa de Sueños to celebrate what would have been her birthday. Lucy, Jo and Tom prepare to scatter their mothers ashes and put the house up for sale, as Hope specified. Whilst this is ultimately a sad time for the family as they say farewell to their mother and also the house where they grew up, the long weekend is also supposed to be a celebration of Hope’s life as the three share their happy memories.
However it soon becomes apparent that, like any siblings, Lucy, Jo and Tom each have various secrets that they are hoping to keep hidden. It soon seems as though this beautiful villa in Case de Sueños could just be the place where everything is revealed…
House of Dreams is the first Fanny Blake novel I have had the pleasure of reading, but I can say with utter certainty that it will not be the last. (I may have already had a teeny, tiny Amazon binge the moment I tuned the last page of this charming & fabulous story.)
I loved the premise and knew that this story was likely to be something special. I love family-drama style stories, especially where you have siblings who have secrets. The thing that appealed so much about House of Dreams was the way in which those secrets were revealed. They were slow to unfold, with some being more obvious than others, and this is the perfect format for a story that can be defined as a real page turner. The more you discover you more you will want to keep reading which is quite a dangerous position to find yourself in when you’re running late for work…
The drama is realistically done and I feel as though Fanny has an obvious talent for recreating family life. She has the dynamics of Lucy, Jo and Tom spot on; making them jump off the pages and quickly envelope you into their story. They were vibrant realistic and absolutely fascinating characters. I loved the contrast between each of them (for example you have eldest sibling Tom – a regimented character who likes to stick to his routine, middle child Jo who is a single mother with a daughter of her own, Ivy, and finally the ’baby’ of the bunch, Lucy.) Hope was one of the characters that fascinated me the most, and despite her not actually being alive during the story, she is one of the largest and most prominent characters of all. I love how certain aspects of her personality have clearly been passed on to her children (you’ll see exactly what I mean when you read this for yourself!) Despite this story only being set over four days, it’s amazing how much you learn and get to know the characters. You’ll find your opinions gradually changing over the course of the story as you begin to bond with them and Fanny reveals another side to some of them.
I felt that the main theme within this story was the complex relationship between a mother and her children and Fanny tackles this so well. She incorporates the joy, the tears, the memories, the heartbreak, and the unbreakable bond that can be shared. Of course, the other main topic submerged within the story is that of the relationship between siblings. How the actions of one can affect the others in such a huge way and also the difficulties and complexities of being the youngest or oldest (or even middle…) child.
There was certainly a more serious side to this novel that I perhaps hadn’t been expecting, but I love the way that Fanny blended the more sombre aspects of the story with humour. There were parts of this story that really made my cackle. (And I do love a good cackle.) She also really brought the gorgeous Spanish setting to life for me and it made for the perfect backdrop to the story.
Fanny is an absolutely wonderful writer and I can’t wait to discover more of her books. I love how she crafted her characters and she has written a heart-warming, compelling and truly addictive story with House of Dreams.
A huge thank you to Zabiba at Orion for the opportunity to review House of Dreams.
Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing fiction and general non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written several bestsellers and acted as ghost writer for a number of celebrities. She is also Books Editor of womanandhome magazine. Her novels include The Secrets Women Keep (Orion) and With a Friend Like You (Orion).