All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Season Of Salt And Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe

on October 31, 2018

Season Of Salt & Honey 
Hannah Tunnicliffe
Pan Macmillan AUS
2015, 336p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

A NOVEL OF LOVE, GRIEF AND ANTIPASTI.

Francesca ‘Frankie’ Caputo has it all figured out. She’s finally going to marry the man she loves and then they will live happily ever after. But when a freak accident cuts her fiancé Alex’s life tragically short, all of Frankie’s future plans suddenly disintegrate.

Drowning in grief, Frankie flees from her overbearing Italian-American family, and escapes to an abandoned cabin owned by Alex’s parents in a remote part of Washington forest.

As her heart slowly begins to heal, Frankie discovers a freedom that’s both exhilarating and unsettling to everything she has always known for sure. So when her old life comes crashing back in, Frankie must decide: will she slip quietly back into her safe, former existence? Or will a stronger, wiser Frankie Caputo stand up and claim her new life?

Okay so I read a lot of books. Over 200 a year. Unfortunately I cannot read everything that I receive for review or even everything that I buy….there’s just not enough time in the day for that! So I have huge TBR piles that lurk in my house, making me feel guilty about all my unread books even as I’m busily buying new ones. Occasionally I pull something out of the ‘slush pile’ and I’ve had this one on my TBR for a couple of years now. I always kind of avoided it because the loss mentioned in the blurb didn’t really make me want to pick it up. But yesterday I decided I could go with it and that it was time to finally give it a go. Weirdly, when I went to add it to GR, I discovered that I’d apparently already added it, three years ago. I don’t remember reading it so I’m pretty sure I added it by mistake or meant to add something else. My memory is really good and even though I do read a lot of books, I don’t really tend to forget reading an entire one. I may blank out on bits and pieces of the plot or character names years down the track….but not the entire thing. Nothing about this was familiar to me so I’m pretty sure this was my first time actually reading it!

Frankie lived a content and peaceful life for the most part, with her fiancé Alex, who had been her high school sweetheart. They were planning their wedding, although Alex’s life seemed to more revolve around surfing than their life together. When he is tragically lost to her, Frankie flees his funeral in grief, making her way to a cabin belonging to Alex’s family. It’s quite rustic, with an outhouse and little in the way of creature comforts but Alex enjoyed its proximity to the beach and had fond memories of time spent there as a child with his grandfather. For Frankie, it’s a quiet escape away from her somewhat overbearing Italian relatives, although her peace is broken by the arrival of her estranged sister Bella, who seems to want to make friends.

I enjoyed quite a lot about this book. We don’t really get a lot of Frankie and Alex as a couple, just some flashbacks and later on quite a bit more fleshing out about their status prior to his death but I felt as though Frankie’s grief was really well done. Grief can be a funny thing to try and write in books, it can be hard to strike that chord so that it feels really powerful but not overdone or a bit fake. Frankie is deep in a fog and she really just has to get away from everything, which is apparently not really understood by her family. Her family are Italian-American and very close knit…..quite overbearing and demanding and it’s something I’ve experienced to a smaller degree, marrying into a family that also originates from Italy. There’s a lot of expectation and skipping things isn’t really deemed okay, even if you just saw all these people like a day or two ago. They value those big family gatherings and they can be very intimidating to people who aren’t familiar with them or come into them as adults. So when Frankie talks about how Alex didn’t really know how to handle her family events, I can understand where she’s coming from.

Food is a strong part of this novel, from what Frankie’s Aunties are always making (meatballs in sauce, arancini balls, canolli, all those strong traditional foods Italians are famous for) to the vegetables and herbs that a neighbour Frankie meets grows in her garden. There are recipes included too, which was really good because I love books that celebrate food and share that food with the reader. There’s a risotto recipe in this book that I’m desperate to try – I love risotto, it’s one of my favourite meals and we have a couple of go-to ones that we constantly have on rotation here and I’m thinking of adding this one to it. Just with less garlic!

If I had a criticism of this book, it was probably that the revelations about Alex felt a bit like a cop out, especially as he wasn’t around to defend himself or explain or clarify anything and the reader and Frankie were just kind of left with half the story, which did little to really impact on anything. It felt like a clumsy attempt to get Frankie to realise that maybe she should be ready to move on or that she’d grieved something that didn’t exist in the way that she thought it did. Also I’m a bit of a sucker for a romance thread and I’d have liked just a touch more here. I know what was going to happen, what the end game was but just one more interaction would’ve been a really nice touch for me.

7/10

Book #185 of 2018

 

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One response to “Review: Season Of Salt And Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe

  1. It’s a very appealing cover on this book. I love risotto but I’m the only one here in this household who does so I don’t get to eat it nearly enough as I’d like to.

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