Date of publication: April 2016
Traveling to Faro, Portugal, journalist Joanna Millard hopes to escape an unsatisfying relationship and a stalled career; Faro is an enchanting town, and the seaside views are enhanced by the company of Nathan Emberlin, a charismatic younger man. But Joanna soon realizes that behind the crumbling facades of Moorish buildings Faro has a seedy underbelly, its economy compromised by corruption and wartime spoils. And Nathan has an ulterior motive for seeking her company: he is determined to discover the truth involving a child’s kidnapping that may have taken place on this dramatic coastline more than two decades ago.
Joanna’s subsequent search leads her to Ian Rylands, an English expat who cryptically suggests she will find answers in The Alliance, a novel written by American Esta Hartford. The book recounts an American couple’s experience in Portugal during World War II, and their entanglements both personal and professional with their German enemies. Only Rylands insists the book isn’t fiction, and as Joanna reads deeper into The Alliance, she begins to suspect that Esta Hartford’s story and Nathan Emberlin’s may indeed converge in Faro—where the past not only casts a long shadow but still exerts a very present danger.
300 Days of Sun is actually like two books in one. You get the present story of Joanna who is staying in Faro as a language student. She is recruited by Nathan to use her reporter skills to look for the truth behind his adoption. Interspersed throughout the story are long excerpts from a book, The Alliance which is a fictionalized account of Esta's time in the Portugal during WWII.
I was initially sucked into the Joanna's story and was eager to follow the mystery to the end. However, I didn't end up loving this book as much as I wanted to but I did find it somewhat enjoyable. I found that it dragged in places and the insertion of Esta's book excerpts disrupted the flow of Joanna's story for me. It was hard to figure out what relevance the excerpts had to the mystery until close to the end of the book and that was frustrating. It just took too long to get to the point. Had there been more clues earlier on, I think I might have enjoyed it more. The resolution was one that makes you wonder what is real and what is a lie and I was a bit dis-satisfied with the ending.
When I picked up this book, I had no idea what the title was referring to, but it refers to Portugal having "300 days of sun" a year. The one thing that I did like about the book was the writing. The author's descriptions of the countryside in the book made me feel as if I were there. I would love to add the area to my travel bucket list.
Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter, and lives in Kent, England. Deborah’s previous novels include The Lantern and The Sea Garden.
Find out more about Deborah at her website, read more at her blog, and connect with her on Facebook andInstagram.
Deborah’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, April 12th: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, April 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 15th: Luxury Reading
Monday, April 18th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 19th: FictionZeal
Thursday, April 21st: A Literary Vacation
Monday, April 25th: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 26th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, April 27th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, April 28th: Kahakai Kitchen