A book with more than 500 pages……
I’ve always loved Santa Montefiore’s books. I think I was 17 when I read Meet me under the Ombu tree and I rememberer being utterly captivated from the beginning. That was 10 years ago and this is the only other novel of hers I have read. I liked it. It is long and covers a lifetime of happiness, hurt and pain.
The story centres around a girl names Federica. She was born in Chile to a Chilean Father, Ramon and an English Mother, Helena, but despite her Father often setting off for months on end to pursue his writing ambitions around the world Federica dotes on him with unwavering love and admiration. Her Mother on the other hand does not and decides that this is not the life she wants to continue living. With this in mind and a selfish, needy side she uproots the two children, Federica and Hal, to her home town of Polperro in Cornwall. however much to Helena’s secret desire, Ramon does not fight for them to stay, but confirms that this is the best move for the family.They move in with the children’s Grandparents and soon Federica becomes firm friends with Hester, her neighbour and deeply infatuated with her much older brother Sam. With Sam seemingly disinterested in Federica, she falls in love with the dazzling Torquil Jensen and rides a roller coaster of a marriage until anonymous, poetic notes appear and help Federica to see the light and move forward with her life.
The story experiences perfect love, abusive love, true love, unrequited love, overwhelming love and underwhelming love. Each on their own journey to find happiness , whatever the means.
I was hooked on the story from the beginning and couldn’t get enough of the dynamics of the family, I love their unsatisfying, turbulent relationship and had so many questions humming in my head; will Ramon arrive in England to save the day? Will Helena and Ramon rekindle their love? Will Hal and Ramon ever unite and see past their troubled beginnings? Will Federica’s love every dim for her Father? All of these questions were answered and luckily the ending is happy. I love a happy ending, it makes me feel complete and satisfied, however, this novel seemed to be a little too perfect and a little too happy, particularly Ramon and Hal. If I was Hal and had been ignored and abandoned which lead to gambling and alcoholism, I would be a little more skeptical and not so forgiving. Likewise if I was Arthur and my wife was cheating on me, it would take more than a Sunday Roast to issue forgivness. They could be stories in themselves It was a very busy book and to me the ending was a little underwhelming. It was clear to see what would happen with Federica, but there just seemed to be a lot of back stories which couldn’t be fully told, explained and concluded thoroughly and wholly.
This book is perfect for readers who love epic love stories. I would give this story 3.5/ 5