Here are some thoughts on a book I read on my recent holiday, Santa Monetfiore’s The Temptation of Gracie. It was perfect, relaxing and feel-good holiday reading. The book follows widowed Gracie as she, quite out of character, signs up for a cookery course in Tuscany. Unknown to her family, she has links to that region and secrets she has kept closely hidden for years. To her regret, she isn’t close to her workaholic daughter Carina or her grand-daughter Anastasia. So she is most surprised, but also delighted, when they decide to accompany her on the trip. Would this holiday cooking and eating together bring them closer or just emphasise the chasm which had developed in their relationships?
What I loved about this book in particular were the vivid descriptions. The mouth-watering food being prepared by those on the Italian cookery course. The beautiful landscape of Tuscany leapt vibrantly from the page. I imagined I could smell the scent of rosemary and lavender from the castle gardens. The heat, the sounds, the sights all were so perfectly painted in words that I almost felt like I was there.
I really liked the main character Gracie although her daughter Carina and granddaughter Anastasia were harder to like at first. But as the Italian heat and the delicious food worked its magic, they relaxed more and I did warm to them both. I also really loved the character of Flappy, back home in Badley Compton – she was a hoot!
With themes of food, family, friendship, love, secrets, this was a compelling read. I hadn’t read a book by this author before but I really enjoyed this one and will be looking up her back catalogue as well as watching out for future releases.
This was my own copy of the book. It is published by Simon & Schuster and available now in all formats. You should be able to buy or order a copy from your usual book retailer or order a Kindle copy here: The Temptation of Gracie.
From the back of the book
Never give up on your dreams, no matter how long you hold on to them . . .
When Gracie Burton stumbles upon an advertisement for a week-long cookery course in the heart of the Tuscan countryside,she cannot resist, and ploughs her life savings into the trip.
Her only family – daughter Carina and granddaughter Anastasia – are hesitant about what has prompted this seemingly random venture. But they have no sense of Gracie’s past; of what could possibly be calling her to Italy. They have no idea that Gracie is harbouring the secret of an extraordinary life that preceded them . . .
Bestselling author, Santa Montefiore, returns with an unforgettable tale of love lost and rediscovered, set across the beautiful landscape of Italy
About the author
(Author bio and photo from Amazon)
Hi, I’m Santa Montefiore and I’ve been writing a novel a year for nineteen years now, which is quite astonishing as I didn’t really think beyond the first book, which took me five years to write. I didn’t think I had another in me, but here I am, celebrating my eighteenth and polishing my nineteenth for publication next year! Most of my novels are set partly in England and partly in a beautiful location, like Argentina, Italy or France. I write primarily for myself so I figure, as I’m going to be living in my imagination for the best part of six months, I might as well choose somewhere lovely. I adore nature, so I tend to plant my characters in rural settlings – by the sea or in the countryside – and most of them are stand alone, except Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Italian Matchmaker, and my recent trilogy, The Deverill Chronicles, which is set in Ireland from 1910 to the sixties. I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed stories, both reading them and writing them. I can’t imagine life without them. Not only are they entertaining, but they teach us so much about life – and enable us to live vicariously through characters who experience more drama than we do! I’m emotional. I love to be moved. There’s nothing better than sinking into a novel and empathising with the characters as they journey through the novel, experiencing both ups and downs…I love to laugh and cry and I want the book to stay with me after I’ve turned the last page. I don’t need a happy ending, but I need a satisfactory one. I hope I deliver satisfactory endings in my own novels. I also write children’s books with my husband, Simon Sebag-Montefiore. The series is The Royal Rabbits of London, about a secret society of MI5 style rabbits who live beneath Buckingham Palace and protect the Royal Family from evil. Our son came up with the idea when he was six years old and it’s now being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, which is beyond exciting. To see our characters in animation will be magical. I live in London but rent a cottage in Hampshire, which is where I bolt to when I can no longer take the pace of the city and need to spend time in nature to find peace. We have two children, our daughter Lily and our son Sasha. We also have a Labrador called Simba who is definitely the most spoiled member of the family. My husband Simon is a historian, novelist and broadcaster. We manage to live and work in the same house without killing each other. My favourite place to write is at the kitchen table because it’s near the kettle and the fridge. If I start a packet of biscuits I can’t stop so I try not to start… but marmite toast is another matter, and a very serious one; nothing can separate me from that.
Visit me at http://www.santamontefiore.co.uk and sign up for my newsletter which I try to write every month, but sometimes struggle, so please forgive me if I miss one or two!