Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.
But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.
But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?
There is nothing more I love than a book that whisks you away to another part of the world in an instant. While it’s all well and good reading travel blogs and articles that highlight the best parts of a holiday destination, a book which can take you around the world immerses you in a way that no other piece of writing can. Especially when you’re surrounded by the dreariness of London on your commute to work.
Isabelle Broom’s evocative debut My Map of You does exactly that, simply by littering the story with delightful, sensory descriptions of Zakynthos in Greece. The story is very simple yet heart-warming. It follows the protagonist Holly’s journey to better understanding a fragmented past, which includes coming to terms with the death of her mum and the estrangement of her family. Her life is turned upside down upon discovering that her deceased aunt has left her both a home on Greek island Zakynthos, along with a few eye-opening secrets to unravel. Jetting off determined to sell the house but also satisfy her curiosity and intrigue, the story tracks Holly’s route to discovering the truth about herself, all the while trying to negotiate the present with the past and her future.
Broom has the unique ability of transporting readers to Greece from the comfort of their seats in her gorgeous, compelling descriptions of the captivating Greek landscape. At times, it is almost as though she is presenting us with a blank canvas and very carefully painting us an image using masterful brush strokes. What really wins me over is the emphasis on eating, and how food becomes a sensory treat awakening pleasure and delight in both Holly and the reader: “she loved the way the oozyy honey lifted the sweetness of the plump fruit and the sharp pepper kept the whole combination from becoming too much.”
It’s also very easy to fall in love with Holly as she represents the conflict that many of us have in our lives too: not feeling quite at home, a restlessness that comes with living regular 9-5 lives, unfulfilled careers and relationships and the incessant, burning need to break the monotony and live for one’s self. Holly’s path to becoming a better version of herself is therefore easy to follow and relate to, making the story an emotional yet enjoyable read.
Throw in a complicated romance back home in London with boyfriend Rupert and the alluring Irish vet Aidan in Greece and you’ve got Holly embroiled in a perfect yet messy romance, one which not only complicates the process of discovering the self but adds another exciting layer to an already touching storyline. Broom cleverly introduces Aidan to highlight the constant struggle of Holly, but in a way that highlights him as the perfect romantic counterpart; he is another broken character trying to fix things. Their cheeky yet intense romance offers a buoyancy to the novel that firstly, feels incredibly real but more importantly, compliments the protagonist’s own battle with herself.
My Map of You is due for release on 21st April. If you’re looking for a novel that satisfies your wonderlust but throws in just the right amount of drama, curl up on the sofa (or the tube!) and give Broom’s debut novel a read.
Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts at the University of West London before starting a career first in local newspapers and then as a junior sub-editor at heat magazine. She travelled through Europe during her gap year and went to live on the Greek island of Zakynthos for an unforgettable and life-shaping six months after completing her degree. Since then, she has travelled to Canada, Sri Lanka, Sicily, New York, LA, the Canary Islands, Spain and lots more of Greece, but her wanderlust was reined in when she met Max, a fluffy little Bolognese puppy desperate for a home. When she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at heatmagazine and walking her beloved dog round the parks of north London.
You can follow Isabelle Broom on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.
My Map of You is available to pre-order on Amazon now.