For me, reading should enable me to escape, to travel and to inhabit another world. And I was on that plane, travelling to Sardinia, with Faye taking in the sight of the ‘islands, rocky bays, boats moored in the almost circular harbour and turquoise water that looked more like the Caribbean.’ Instantly, seduced by Ley’s scene setting: I settled back to enjoy the journey. I expected paradise but it wasn’t that simple.
As an armchair traveller, the only baggage I carried was high hopes for a romance with a perfect setting, and I was not disappointed. I walked along ‘…cobbled streets lined by tall skinny houses painted every shade of vibrant turquoise to deep ochre’ and I was lost in the vibrant colours of the Mediterranean. My senses were piqued by the ‘sweet, pungent smell of roasted peppers, tomato and garlic exiting every doorway.’ Lost in paradise, I meandered through the Ley’s setting and basked in the ‘golden afternoon light’, with Faye.
Beneath the beguiling canvas of Deriu there are shadows lurking. Faye feels ‘a dark underbelly to this place’. Ley’s story explores the shadows and searches beneath the surface of the paradise. The Little Theatre is a symbol of: the town’s history, culture, the secrets and the way that the heart can wither if unloved.
‘The ravages of time and damp had left the theatre looking tired and unloved.’ And the ‘ravages of time’ have left scars on the community. The Volitis morn for, Giorgia, their missing daughter. Pasquale still pines for the dream of a loved one that he could never obtain. Time has taken Alessandro and Marisa’s parents, thus inspiring them to transform the theatre into a memorial. Over time, the theatre has hidden secrets and even sheltered people from danger. Faye’s parents, back in the UK, have also hidden a marriage that has been ravaged by time and secrets. The theatre seems to be a symbol of the lives that also need to be restored.
If Faye is to restore the theatre, then she must understand what the theatre means to the people of Deriu. However, it is uncertain if she will be able to succeed in the task that she has been given by the Rinaldis. Alessandro Rinaldi is like a brooding Italian Healthcliff who seems wild and tormented by a mystery. Surely, this is the beautiful hero with ‘navy eyes’ will fall in love with Faye. Alessandro can be compassionate and mysterious, and Faye’s confusion is imprinted on the scenery that is ‘a jumble of roots and flower-ladden terraces; vines twisting around pergolas. Purple jasmine blossoming in a haze.’ Indeed, Faye’s feelings for Alessandro seem to be in a haze and the tension is overwhelming. The interaction between Alessandro and Faye successfully drives the narrative.
The insight into Faye’s parents helps the reader to understand Faye. There is a clever juxtaposition of what seems to be the end of a relationship compared with a potential new relationship. Faye’s parents, Ade and Molly, both embark on an emotional journey. These characters provide some poignant reflections on love and marriage. Ade, who has been looking for adventure, realises ‘…it was the minutiae of life that kept couples together’. Ley’s exploration of the way a marriage can veer out of control is thought-provoking. Molly’s epiphany is beautifully washed away in a memorable scene. Rosanna Ley examines how honesty is key in any relationship be it an established relationship or a new one.
Faye’s parents live in a cold climate, by the sea, and are reserved and hide their feelings. The villagers of……. live in a warm climate and they seem permanently angry. The Sicilians are a ‘proud race’, they ‘shake their fists’ and ‘talk at the same time’. It is difficult for Faye to understand the villagers but she must find a way if she is to be accepted.
An intriguing story about new beginnings, love, dreams and secrets.