Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour and to Chris Penhall and Ruby Fiction for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating.
But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents.
But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home.
When sensible, organised Alice and Adam bought their home Alice threw herself into making it a haven for both of them. When the relationship breaks down Alice is left with debts and just the house to care for and throws herself into work and taking care of it. But when Adam returns wanting to sell the house Alice decides a long holiday is in need and flies out to Portugal to stay with her friend Kathy.
Poor Alice – I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for her. Once free spirited and a little wild her nature has been dampened by her relationship and then the loss of that relationship along with her self confidence. I loved reading about her journey from downtrodden to fabulous and spent the whole novel cheering for her. I thought her friend Kathy was a brilliant friend to Alice and knew just when to be firm and pushy.
Cascais, in Portugal, provided a stunning setting and even sitting at home reading I could feel myself being uplifted by the setting and the people surrounding Alice. Chris Penhall captures every beautiful detail of Cascais and really pulls the reader in. I was completely transported here and took every step of the journey with Alice. I could feel the sun on me, hear the waves and smell every delicious morsel that she indulged in. The residents are a zany bunch and add an extra layer of background antics to the main plot, including Magic Mary, a mischievous cat and some rather potent tea. Not to mention the lovely Luis and a few other males.
This is a perfect debut novel and a great heartwarming read for cold, Autumn nights. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more by Chris Penhall in the future.
Author Bio – Chris Penhall
Chris Penhall is a freelance writer and radio producer.
Her book, The House That Alice Built, won the Choc-Lit Search for a Star Competition 2019.
Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She is now working on her second.
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
Chris has two grown up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside.
Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.
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