Are you looking for a touching page turner to read this summer? Under an Amber Sky – a beautifully written story by Rose Alexander.
When Sophie Taylor’s life falls apart, there is only one thing to do: escape and find a new one.
Dragged to Montenegro by her best friend Anna, Sophie begins to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. But when she stumbles into an old, run-down house on the Bay of Kotor, she surprises even herself when she buys it.
Surrounded by old furniture, left behind by the former inhabitants, Sophie becomes obsessed by a young Balkan couple when she discovers a bundle of letters from the 1940s in a broken roll-top desk. Letters that speak of great love, hope and a mystery Sophie can’t help but get drawn into.
Days in Montenegro are nothing like she expected and as Sophie’s home begins to fill with a motley crew of lodgers, the house by the bay begins to breathe again. And for Sophie, life seems to be restarting. But letting go of the past is easier said than done…
This is a novel of unbearable grief, hope, and new beginnings. A story of deep emotions, Under an Amber Sky saddens the heart enormously but only to cheer it up in the end.
A tragedy ruins Sophie’s almost perfect life in London. Everything she has loved and enjoyed is now gone. Forever. She gathers together the pieces of her devastated soul and leaves the city. Not because she has any hope for the future, but because she cannot stand being there anymore. Everything in London reminds her of her loss, of happiness that will never come back.
Montenegro, a perfectly unknown country, like nothing the heroine was used to in her homeland. Breathtakingly beautiful and so warm in summer but so snowy now in winter. Sophie’s new home is so cold when she arrives, as if to associate with the coldness inside her. But she is too miserable to pay attention, too wasted to “move on”, too weak to fight the melancholy… She has lost her zest for life. Life is a pain, days of loneliness and sorrow that she is supposed to endure.
Sophie has accepted that from now on darkness will be the normal state of her being. Yet, the light comes up, despite her unwillingness to start anew. Because hope is inherent. “There is always hope, even in the darkest of times.”
Under an Amber Sky is a women’s fiction novel. But it’s not a bathetic love story where a female would gush and cry all the time. There is something deeper behind her tears, her sadness is not depicted in detail aimlessly and by accident. Her feelings could actually be the feelings of me and you, regardless of your gender, and I think this is the power of this book. Yes, it explores the inner world of a woman, showing both her fragility and strength. But everyone could relate, everyone could recognise themselves in the story.
One more reason I loved this book so much – the Balkans. I have never been to Montenegro myself but the narrative is full of Montenegrin words similar in pronunciation and meaning to Bulgarian, my mother tongue. My husband has spent some time in Montenegro and says it’s a gorgeous place. The author has done a great job describing the beauty of this little country and the friendliness of the local people. I also appreciate the historical elements of the novel dating back to the Second World War and the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s.
Sophie is often perplexed by the Balkan customs (the ritual of drinking rakija, for example), but she loves the local’s cheerfulness and the slow-paced life in Montenegro. Being a Bulgarian expat in the UK, I can understand the cultural gap between our societies. And I always enjoy a good read on the subject.
Under an Amber Sky is gripping, bright, an exceptionally pleasant piece of literature. There are sobs, but the pages are not soaked in misery. There are smiles and sunny days, confusing feelings and hope timidly arising, carelessness and profundity…
A lovely book to read on the beach (who says beach books should be mediocre?) or in the cosiness of your home, Under an Amber Sky is a novel I highly recommend.
The only drawback – no paperback edition. Well, if you are not as old-fashioned as I am, you probably won’t mind to read it on a Kindle. 😉