Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby
Release Date: 1st June 2017
Buy: Hardback Kindle
What’s the story?
“I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!”
When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat–Kat the adventurer, Kat who ran away to the South Pacific as soon as they graduated–has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?
Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they’ve been dealt. There’s Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat’s longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like “a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different.” Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness.
Kat has spent her many years of her life travelling the world and doing charity work with her husband, but after his death Kat decides to invite four friends from her past to come and stay with the on her cocoa plantation farm in Fiji where she now resides.
Now all in their sixties, Sina, Maya, Ingrid and Lisbeth are intrigued when they receive their invitation from Kat. Whilst it seems like an adventure of a lifetime on the surface; would upping and leaving their native Norway really be for the best?
Each facing their own private battles in life, can the five friends pull together and make a go of their new life amongst the cocoa trees by starting a new chocolate making business? It’s a touch-and-go journey of self-discovery, fresh starts, friendships and all importantly…chocolate.
From the moment I first clapped eyes on Pieces of Happiness I just knew it was going to be one of those books that was the perfect fit for me.
I loved the premise of the story and I couldn’t wait to acquaint myself with these five fascinating-sounding women. Each is struggling with certain areas of their lives, whether that be financially, mentally or facing troubles with family or relationships. I couldn’t wait to see how their lives would change when they left Norway and their old lives behind for the bright skies and cheery way of Fijian life.
I was eager to discover how they would each get on with their venture. Meeting old school friends from over forty years ago would be an adventure for anyone, but to move to a different country to stay with them and attempt to piece your life back together whilst starting your own business is a humongous task. And one which I couldn’t wait to read about…
I wanted to move to Fiji pretty much from the start of the story. I was enchanted by the colour, the atmosphere, the culture and the overall way of life. It absolutely fascinated me and the more I discovered the more I wanted to learn. It’s a credit to Anne Ostby’s wonderful writing with how she brought Fiji to life before my very eyes. I desperately want to go there and I had no trouble envisaging the sights, sounds and smells of The South Pacific from my rainy front room in England.
Then there’s the whole farming chocolate part…I mean WOW. As a full blown chocoholic I loved reading and learning about life on a coca plantation. I found it absolutely fascinating.
I also found the storyline to be really unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. This is always something that excites me as someone who reads a lot some books can become very samey, so to find a new author in Anne Ostby and a hugely refreshing plot line at the same time is an ultimate winner for me.
Engaging, well-written and hugely feel-good, Pieces of Happiness is a must read for chocoholics and bookaholics alike.
A huge thank you to Poppy at Transworld for the opportunity to review Pieces of Happiness.