I’ve gone on at great length in the past about the importance of location in fiction and I daresay I’ll do so again. But sometimes — just sometimes — you come across a writer who so obviously loves a place so much the just can’t help writing about it.
I picked up Liz Ringrose’s Favourite Things on a Kindle promotion a while ago. (That’s how I find a lot of new authors, whose book I then go on to pay full price for, and quite a few whose other books I’ll never buy, but that’s another blog post.) Favourite Things is a novella set in around a Sound of Music tour in the Austrian city of Salzburg. It’s a light, fun read, thoroughly enjoyable and cleverly written, keeping the reader (well, me at least) guessing until the very end.
Somehow, through a mutual friend in Australia if I remember correctly, Liz and I become friends on Facebook and that was how I first found out about her next book, A Salzburg Sunrise. I bought it straight away but, life being what it is, I only just got round to reading it. Loved it, of course, as i knew I would. Liz writes so fluently that it’s a pleasure to read her work.
A Salzburg Sunrise is different, longer and more complex, the story of a young woman rebuilding her life after her husband leaves her for another woman. Natalie visits Salzburg and it’s there that she eventually chooses to rebuild her life. But cutting herself off from her family proves almost as difficult as learning to trust again. And there’s a family secret to uncover, too…
Natalie loves Salzburg. And you know what? It’s pretty clear that Liz loves it, too. Her description — not just of the city’s centre and sights, but the suburbs where Natalie finds both a home and new friends and the surrounding areas where she uncovers the truth about her grandmother are vividly drawn. So are the characters. Nathalie’s emotional fragility is balanced by her determination to start again; fun-loving American Connor and sympathetic widower Leo are believable and — even when they make the inevitable mistakes — likeable.
And Liz kept me guessing. That’s an art. Even after Nathalie had chosen the right man, even after she’d uncovered the family secret, there was a twist in the tale of her fraught relationship with her mother and the breakup with errant husband Adam. Perhaps there were too many twists and turns in Natalie’s growing relationship (I won’t say who with or I’ll spoil the first part of the book), too many predictable misunderstandings which one or other protagonist really ought to have sorted out. That’s a minor gripe, if it’s a gripe at all. I loved the book and can’t wait to rejoin Liz in Salzburg in the pages of her next one.