Review: House of Dreams by Fanny Blake

By | June 11, 2016

At their family hilltop villa, Lucy awaits the arrival of her brother and sister for their mother’s annual birthday party. Although this time, their mother won’t be there.

Struggling at Malaga airport with her fractious four year old, Jo has already lost her case and is dreading arriving without its precious contents.

For Tom, returning to Casa de Sueños stirs up all sorts of memories – then a beautiful face from his past appears . . .

Over one long, hot weekend, past secrets will spill out as three siblings discover more about their family and each other in this gorgeous, warm and witty new novel from Fanny Blake.

Someone please tell me why I haven’t read a book by Fanny Blake before. I’ve had a copy of this book on my kindle since before it was published in hardback – heavens, I even bought a signed copy in a charity auction, I was so sure I was going to love it. But it took the paperback release of House of Dreams – on 2nd June, by Orion – to finally get me to read it. And now I want to read everything Fanny’s ever written…

Over one long weekend, we join Jo, Lucy and Tom – and their families and friends – as they gather in their childhood home in southern Spain for one last party, and to scatter their mother’s ashes. Every single character in this book is quite perfectly drawn, however minor. They have lives, secrets, hidden depths, and interesting stories to tell. I expected a light read – and it is, in some ways, but it also has so many twists and turns as various relationships play themselves through and people learn more about each other and about themselves. Families are always fascinating things – and this family is one that draws you into its heart.

The complicated relationship between the siblings is simply fascinating, but when talking about characters I have to mention Tom’s wife, Belle. She’s in the forefront of every scene in which she appears, and I thought she was quite wonderful – totally real, quite horrendous, but with real depth in her characterisation and totally impossible to ignore. The other character who stands out is the mother, Hope – she’s part of the story through the memories of others, part of the fabric of Casa de Sueños, and totally present throughout as the tensions grow within the family that remains and the secrets begin to tumble out of cupboards.

In this book the heat of the vividly drawn Spanish setting is totally matched by the warmth of the wonderful story telling. There are some perfect comedy moments around the lost suitcase, the claiming and stickering of the house contents, the dogs, the children – but equally moments that will move you to tears. A quite perfect read for a warm summer’s day – but a book that will equally enthral if you read it in cold winter. I loved it.

My thanks to netgalley and publishers Orion for my advance reading e-copy.

Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as ghost writer for a number of celebrities, and is also Books Editor of Woman & Home magazine. She has written four novels, including Women of a Dangerous Age and With a Friend Like You.

Fanny has an excellent website, and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Review: House of Dreams by Fanny Blake

  1. TripFiction

    Sounds like an excellent read. Must add it to our TBR pile. Thank you for the excellent review.

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