For Joanna, Portugal is the perfect opportunity to gain some perspective after losing her job and walking out on her boyfriend. It's a break and a change of pace, not to mention a change of scenery. But when a fellow traveler asks for her help looking into a private matter, her journalistic instincts can't be denied - Joanna can smell a story brewing.
Nathan Emberlin's parents are both dead and he is looking for a man he always thought was his father's friend. But for a strange admission his mother made on her death bed, he may never have known any different. His mother's dying revelation, though, led Nathan to Portugal for answers in a mystery that seems to trace all the way back to WWII. As he and Joanna try to piece together the information, they become embroiled in an investigation that could put them both in very grave danger.
Ooh, just writing the synopsis for this one gives me chills and I've already read the book!
I love, love, love how Deborah Lawrenson weaves her stories amongst such lush and exotic locales. Her previous release, The Sea Garden (one of my favorite reads of 2014), was set in the Porquerolles, a place that's become my absolute idea of paradise since reading the book. Before that, she took readers to Provence in The Lantern. Now she's bringing readers to Portugal! And while she's added intrigue and kidnapping to the mix, it's all in the fun of the story. Portugal itself, the village of Faro in particular, still comes through as charming and vibrant.
The story is essentially split into two timelines: Joanna's digging all takes place present day, but one of her contacts suggests that reading a book published during WWII might help lend her some answers. And at first both Joanna and the reader have a hard time understanding exactly how the fictional tale of The Alliance connects to Ethan's inquiry at all.
The Alliance, Lawrenson's creation, was penned by a woman named Esta Hartford and is set in Portugal during WWII. The book, as Joanna's contact claims, has become something of a cult favorite in Portugal. In the fictional tale, an American and her husband travel from Rome to Portugal in the hopes that they can leave the continent before the neutral country is dragged into the war. But before they can hitch a ride out, they find themselves entangled in a network of secrets and spies.
I've never been to Portugal and had little (no) knowledge of the country's involvement in the war, but Lawrenson was still able to give me the opportunity to feel as though I was there seeing it all first hand. Through Joanna and Esta's Alva, I witnessed and felt the discordance between the sunny beaches and the smell of the ocean and the tension and uncertainty the people must have felt there during the war. That discordance of a virtual paradise, a breath of relief, and the possibility that it could all come crumbling down around the characters at any minute added to the overall suspense, making this a story that grabbed my attention even when I wasn't able to read it. As with any good read, I couldn't wait to get back to it and it lingered long after finishing.
300 Days of Sun is a truly page-turning tale of WWII espionage and the more present mystery of a string of missing kids. How those two connect is for you to discover but I will say that, as always, Lawrenson has very clearly done her research. Her attention to detail with regards to her setting and the tone and feel of that setting present day and during WWII is fantastic!
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Deborah Lawrenson and her work you can visit her website here. You can also check out her blog, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble