Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.
But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.
But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You had me at ‘Greek island of Zakynthos’. The setting for this book, beautifully depicted on the cover, hooked me at once. What a perfect backdrop for romance.
I was expecting this novel to be a love affair with the island, and in some ways it is; but there is so much more on offer.
First, Holly’s love life. Strictly speaking, there should be no developing romance in the book, because Holly already has a boyfriend, the affable Rupert. But early on the author signals that their relationship is on a shaky footing, because Holly has become very adept at playing the part of good-little-girlfriend, rather than herself.
Enter Aidan, her next door neighbour on Zakynthos. It is easy to see why Holly is attracted to him, and not only because he is handsome, friendly and delightfully Irish: with Aidan, she is more herself than she has been for a long time; perhaps ever.
The romance story that unfolds has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages, and plenty of emotion. What I liked best about it was its realism; this isn’t a fairy tale, it is real life, and sometimes that is ugly and messy. The stark reality serves to heighten the moments of romantic connection, so that by the end of the book I was really rooting for Holly.
Alongside the romance, a second, and to my mind even more compelling, story unfolds, concerning Holly’s family. I was gripped by this aspect of the book, and profoundly moved in places. Poor Holly, who grew up so isolated and wounded by her mother, and has missed the chance to get to know her aunt in person. The island, however, offers her a new path, if only she can be brave enough to follow the clues to uncover the secret that tore her family apart.
That leads me to Holly’s personal journey through the book. This was the element with which I most identified. It is so easy to like Holly, and to wish her a brighter future beyond the shadow of her mother’s legacy. Over the course of the story, she warms up, as if the Zakynthos sun is infusing her with light and hope.
The denouement of the novel had me flying through the pages; it really is the perfect ending to the story, and an honest one. I closed the book satisfied and feeling each minute I’d spent in the reading was time well spent.
In all, this is a memorable debut novel with a good mix of poignancy and ‘feel-good’, and I look forward to reading more books by the author.
My Map of You is available to order from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.