Monday, April 18, 2016

300 Days of Sun - Deborah Lawrenson

300 Days of Sun
Title: 300 Days of Sun
Author: Deborah Lawrenson
Publication Date: 4/12/16
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical / Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours
Date Completed: 4/8/16

Summary: The story vacillates between a modern mystery and WWII era spying - both set on the ruggedly beautiful coasts of Portugal. 

What I Thought: This novel was interesting. I joined the tour in part because the description made me think of Beautiful Ruins (I'll be honest - the cover art doesn't hurt with that comparison) but with more mystery and action added in. The book itself did have a bit of that vibe, but it certainly had a much different overall tone.

My favorite part about the book were the descriptions of Portuguese lifestyles and landscapes. Lawrenson's vivid portraits had me ready to book a ticket immediately. I have never given Portugal much thought when thinking about European travel, but this book absolutely put it on my must-go list. I think it may be a good balance of things Kevin likes to do on vacation with things I like to do on vacation - plus enough seafood for us both to dine happily indefinitely. 

Deborah Lawrenson
Beyond the lovely descriptive passages, however, the plot of the book left me wanting. I enjoyed the historical sections, set in WWII era Portugal much more. There, an American couple find themselves on the edge of Europe with countless other refugees fleeing the German advance. I was not aware of this particular aspect of WWII history and found it fascinating. Of course, it makes total sense that Portugal, a technical neutral country, should have become a last resort jumping off point for many. Still, seeing it portrayed even in fiction was a new idea and experience for me. I found that story interesting and engaging, particularly once the American couple gets involved in international espionage. 

I wish the whole book had stayed with their storyline, even though it was technically the secondary plot. The main events felt forced and confusing to me. In present day, two Portuguese language students become embroiled in the mysterious disappearances of young children. Why they care about this particular matter, which happened decades previously, is at first unclear, though Lawrenson does eventually explain it adequately. The whole investigation and ensuing drama felt muddled and confused, though. I struggled to keep track of characters and to understand why any of it mattered. Just not how you want to feel when ready a suspense-based novel.

Ultimately, it was the beautiful descriptions and the historical perspective which saved this one for me. I could have completely done without the primary plot and I think the book could have been better without it or, at least, by discarding the timeline hopping and sticking to a more straightforward chronologically telling. 

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on 300 Days of Sun, check out the full tour schedule.*
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful
If You Liked This Try: Beautiful Ruins / Sweet Tooth / In the Garden of Beasts

A Reduced Review: Despite some interesting historical context and some beautiful descriptive passages, this one fell flat for me. 

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