More than just a book!

It’s that time of year again when the sun is shining (when it isn’t raining) and there are barbecues planned for bank holiday weekends. I’m tentatively thinking about wearing shorts as the forecast says it’ll be 25 degrees by the weekend (but some fake tan is in order because these legs haven’t seen daylight for a long time!) And I’m dreaming about which book I will read as I’m sipping a gin and tonic in the garden. I have a four year old son so this last bit is most definitely a dream. Someone told me recently that when you buy a book what you’re buying is the time to read it. The hope of that time. Never has anything felt truer. I have a stack of time by my bed just ready and waiting! But, as the evenings get longer and holidays are on the horizon, those spare moments to read feel suddenly within grasp. My problem is that instead of reading what I already own, I’ll celebrate by slipping a paperback in with my Sainsbury’s shop or nipping into Waterstones for a book-sized treat. After all, you can never have too much time.

Here’s what’s on my bedside table at the mo… What’s on yours?

(And if you’re looking for a book to escape with then The Summerhouse by the Sea is only 99p at the moment on Amazon. In those pages, I promise, the sun is shining and the
waves are lapping and you’ll feel like you’ve got all the time in the world… )

Take a sneak peek behind the scenes…

Here’s the Pinterest board for The Sunshine and Biscotti Club. If you’ve read it then enjoy seeing where the inspiration came from. If you haven’t read it, well I hope it will inspire you to dash out as fast as you can to buy a copy! Otherwise, just indulge in all the beautiful images of faded glory hotel rooms, lemon groves and some hot celebrities…

Jenny x

Why I love The Sunshine and Biscotti Club (which is out now, incidentally) …

The Hotel Limoncello, owned by Libby and venue for The Sunshine and Biscotti Club, stands alongside the tranquil blue waters of a stunning Italian lake. Fringed with lemon groves and pine trees, it’s picture perfect and the best place to cool off when the sun gets that little bit too hot.

The inspiration behind it? Well, I have a bit of a love affair with lakes and rivers.

Much of my youth was spent in a rowing boat – going up and down the Thames in the freezing cold early morning. But as I got older, and better at rowing, I went further afield to the winding river of sunny Seville in Spain; a swimming pool turquoise lake in Munich, Germany; the deep, icy mist-laden waters of Switzerland and the picturesque beauty spots of France, Austria and Italy. When we raced in Italy, in the sharp blue water of the mountains, a lake surrounded with tiny villages perched precariously as if they might slip, it was so hot that we would dunk our caps and t-shirts in the lake before we went out for a paddle, water pouring down our arms and legs just to keep cool.

Lake rowing

These lakes and rivers made a map of Europe for me. The towns I never saw, just the water. And now, years later, when I go on holiday, I drag us to a lake nearby – that I once saw only through a mirage of pre-race nerves or the endless laps of a training camp – and see it afresh, with eyes no longer focused only on the boat but instead the trees and the beaches and the cafes.

Lake st croix

Last year we went to the lake in The Sunshine and Biscotti Club. Once one of the regatta lakes in my past. Now a tranquil sea of blue so clear we could spot the fish swimming. White ducks drifted past through air made wobbly from heat. There was music from a cool, hipster café that served hot dogs and beer in condensation covered glasses. We swam in water that was flat and calm and strangely heavy without the buoyant salt of the sea.

Lake coca cola

This time there were no megaphones, no starter guns, no crippling nerves and wild adrenaline. No oars, no racing kit, no spectator stands, no medals. Just the gentle lapping of waves on pebbles, the splash of a dive, the quack of a duck and the thump of the hipster beats.

This is the lake that I dream about when it’s wet and cold and raining in England. This is the lake in The Sunshine and Biscotti Club that forms the backdrop to the lives of Libby, Eve and Jessica as they reignite wary friendships, renovate the dilapidated Hotel Limoncello, dust off forgotten baking skills, and, in the warmth of the sun and under a canopy of lemon trees, re-evaluate what they have, what they had and what they need for a future that is stronger than their pasts.

Quick run to your local bookshop or supermarket to buy a copy or straight to your phone, Kindle or Kobo ereader to download! 😉IMG_5416

Instagram. Come and be my friend (or at the very least have a snoop at my photos).

I have a new phone. It’s a life-changer. My old phone was very bad. Its lack of memory meant that every time I took a photo I had to cross my fingers and hope it would let me take another. One of my tech-savvy friends once looked at it and considered how quaint my lack of apps was. It was the phone, the phone’s fault, I told her, it has no memory! Having said that, I don’t actually have much use for the humble app. But I do love a photo and I do really LOVE Instagram. So please, come follow and have a look. Unfollow if I drive you mad but otherwise hopefully just enjoy the inane snaps of my writing life.

http://www.instagram.com/jenoliverbooks

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xxx

Why I Heart Spring…

1. Daffodils. daffsThey are by far my favourite flower. Great big trumpeting bursts of yellow. I love them. I used to row when I was younger and I remember one day passing all these beautiful daffodils on the river bank and then from a distance watching two people run down and pick them all! When we came back there were none left. It was so sad.
But I think it’s what made me love them so much and appreciate a bunch when I see them in the park – unpicked.

2. Ducklingwatch! I get quite transfixed by the little ducklings round the pond – and really protective. I always do a quick count to check that they’re still OK and no foxes have got them!ducklings

3. The luxury of not having to carry gloves, a hat and a scarf – just an umbrella!

magnolia

 

 

4. The magnolia tree I can see from my bedroom window. I watch the buds get bigger as winter fades and spring begins.

5. The smell in the air when you step outside in the morning. It’s the scent of bright sunshine meets cool dawn and green leaves. The drawback is that it always makes me feel like I’m going to school.

Let me know what I’ve missed? And what you love…

 

Behind the scenes of Cherry Pie

So I thought you might want a bit of a behind the scenes sneak peak at some of the inspiration behind the Cherry Pie Island series 

Here’s five things that you may not already know about The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe

Cherry Pie Island map

  1. I used to be a rower and The Dandelion Cafe is based on the cafe we used to go to between our rowing outings at the weekend. It was a tiny, dark little place that existed before all the trendy tea rooms and coffee shops started opening and was the only place to go. It had ripped red faux leather seats and served apple pie with fluorescent custard. We’d have mugs of steaming hot tea and toasted bacon sandwiches with ketchup and we’d sit and read the paper and do the crossword while truckers came in for a pit stop and clubbers stumbled in having not been to bed. We’d watch the rain outside – sick that we had to go back out on the river – or smile at the sunshine thinking how tanned we’d get during the next session. The cafe was tatty and run down and I don’t think it exists anymore but it was so cosy and friendly and the perfect place to escape the world for an hour or so.
  2. When I lived in Vauxhall, every morning I’d walk to the train station along a big, polluted main road. To make it a little bit more pleasant I’d cut through the park. In spring they had the most phenomenal blossom trees. I would stop and look up and the sky would be filled with pink frothy petals – just like the orchard on Cherry Pie Island.
  3. In Dandelion Cafe, Annie remembers discussions over the best way to eat cherry pie. Personally, I really like a teaspoon. So does my mum. My dad likes a fork. My husband thinks we’re all bonkers and should just eat with whatever piece of cutlery we’re given. How do you eat yours?
  4. Cherries are definitely my favourite fruit (close seconds: bananas, clementines and raspberries). Once, while driving through France, we stopped at a stall at the side of the road and bought a bag of the most exquisite, sweet, juicy, dark red cherries I’ve ever eaten. We still talk wistfully about them!
  5. The Dandelion Cafe becomes a tapas place in the evening. This is my dream cafe! Retro-chic cafe by day, cool little tapas bar by night. I went to Seville for my honeymoon and it fast became one of my favourite places – so friendly, exciting and beautiful. Orange trees line the streets and the little bars serve marinated anchovies, chorizo, pimiento de padron, serrano ham. It was food heaven. Hopefully I’ve captured a little piece of it for you to taste.

Happy reading!

And if you like, take a look at the map of Cherry Pie Island!

Jenny x