In The Little Theatre by the Sea – or Il Piccolo Teatro which sounds so much more romantic somehow – we follow Faye as she is invited by her friend to stay for a few weeks in Sardinia and work on the restoration of the small village of Deriu’s theatre. Faye is a newly qualified interior designer and this sounds like a dream job. However, it isn’t as straightforward as it seems. There is a long-standing feud between some of the villagers who believe it should be owned by the community and the rather gorgeous Alessandro Rinaldi and his sister Marisa who are the actual owners. Then there is Pasquale who used to act in the theatre with their mother, Sofia Rinaldi. He clings to his memories and does not want the theatre changed. Faye also faces the challenge of problems in her parents marriage surfacing when she is so many miles away.
Rosanna Ley is brilliant at depicting her setting. As soon as I started reading her descriptions of the Sardinian landscape, the little village and the sea I wanted to go to visit! She really captures the colours of the village, the sea and sunsets and the scents of the flowers and food in a very visual way. She is equally good at describing the beauty of Dorset where Faye’s parents live with its clifftop walks and long beaches. Her food descriptions were also mouth-watering. The pastas, breads and wines had me longing for a visit to an Italian restaurant preferably by the sea in Italy or Sardinia. I did skim over some of the seafood meal descriptions though as I’m not a fan of food with shells or tentacles!
Rosanna Ley has created characters who have more layers than it appears at first. I changed my opinions of many of them as I read, as did Faye. So many long held secrets made the characters behave in a way to protect their pasts and like actors on the stage, I was never quite sure who I could believe and what was the truth. I did find the secrets a little slow in coming out and found myself frustrated at times by the pace of the story, finding it a rather more gentle-paced novel that I expected. Events which happened nearer the end of the novel lifted the storyline for me though and had me keen to find out how it would all end.
The Little Theatre by the Sea was an enjoyable read though I must admit to enjoying the author’s last book, Last Dance in Havana, so much more. It would make a perfect summer read or a great book to read while dreaming of warmer weather and perhaps planning your next sunshine break.
My thanks to the publishers Quercus for my copy of the book via Netgalley. The Little Theatre will be published in hardback and as an e-book on Thursday 9th March, with the paperback to follow at the beginning of June. You can order a copy online here: The Little Theatre by the Sea
From the back of the book
Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.
When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .