300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson; release date May 16, 2016; published by Lawsome Books; ISBN 9780062390165
Journalist Joanna Millard, having just lost her job and needing separation from her boyfriend Marc, travels from Brussels to Faro, Portugal. She spends her days taking language lessons and lazily exploring the history and natural beauty of this seaside town. She soon befriends fellow classmate Nathan Emberlin, who enlists Joanna to investigate a number of child kidnappings that have occurred in the area. As Joanna reaches out to the locals, she uncovers ‘The Alliance’, a novel written by Esta Hartford, which recounts an American couple’s experiences in Portugal during WWII. Although written as fiction, Joanna begins to suspect that the story of ‘The Alliance’ and the mysterious kidnappings are somehow connected.
So, I have to admit that when I first started reading this back in 2016, I gave up on it after only 100 pages. At the time I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind, and honestly found the writing to be slow and dry, and I just couldn’t get interested in the premise of the story. Fast forward to present day, I decided to give 300 Days of Sun a second chance when I found it would fit one of the Goodreads Seasonal Challenge tasks.
I’m so happy to have restarted it again. While the writing is still slow, and I didn’t really find it very thrilling, the descriptions of Faro, and the Algarve coast are so wonderfully vivid. I found myself engaged with the characters, almost imagining myself following in their footsteps, lazily enjoying the sun’s heat or exploring the historical beauty of Portugal.
The use of the two timelines, with Joanna and Nathan in present day Faro and the Faro of WWII depicted in ‘The Alliance’, works really well and adds a certain historical depth to the mystery. Both stories eventually converge, providing a satisfying tying up of loose ends.
300 Days of Sun has almost all you could hope for; mystery, espionage, history and romance and is really the perfect read for the lazy days of summer ahead of us.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lawsome Books for providing a digital advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.