It’s incredible how fast complete strangers can become important to you – Sandy Barker.
This book fuelled my need to visit Greece even more than I thought possible. Greece has always been on my travel bucket list, but it has always wavered in the middle of the country pile, between far-flung destinations and the rest of Europe. After reading One Summer In Santorini, I want to get on a boat just like Sarah did in the book, and sail around (rather, get taken around) the Greek Islands with nothing but the sunshine, the ocean, and so much incredible food. Of course, my trip around the beautiful islands would be nothing like the tangle that Sarah herself gets up to.
Sarah is a thirty-six year old Australian, who has sworn off men for the foreseeable future. You can already see what’s going to happen. With its predictability, Sarah ends up in another tangled love affair that she really did not want in the first place. Somewhere in the Aegean Sea, she falls for Josh with his sexy American boy vibe, his washboard abs, his laughter and his eyes. He, so it seems, likes her in return… but it is never that simple… I didn’t take to Josh. He is a complicated character with a lot of baggage. Usually that would make me swoon and want to see more of him on the page. Instead, I found him childish and annoying; he gave off too many mixed signals. One minute he got jealous, or was kissing Sarah the way she could only dream of; the next, he explained his celibacy and his longing for the bachelor lifestyle. Even at the end of the story, we don’t actually know what happens. Do they meet up again? Does he actually feel the same way about her? Is this all a game to him? I feel like Sarah was a pawn in his game as he tried to figure out what he actually wants in life, even when it seemed like he had it all figured out.
There is another player in this rom-com Bridget Jones style novel: James. The handsome stranger at the beginning of the book. He had so much more to give in this love triangle, and I wish that he played a bigger role. He is a bachelor in his own right: rich, successful, well-travelled, honest, genuine. He was the biggest shock for me, and I genuinely loved it when his character returned later on in the story. Sarah compares the two suitors – the man and the boy – but even she doesn’t fully see what is right in front of her. Or, she does, but she – as most people do when they are in the holiday spirit of recklessness, drunk off the sun – chooses the one who will most definitely end up hurting her. If the book had a few extra pages, or even an epilogue of three months later which I was expecting, that would have been enough to know what happened next, because I really want to know… does she ever see James again?!
A moment has to be taken for the characters (the rest of the boat family) in this novel. Marie, Gary, Duncan and Gerry were some of my favourite characters I have ever read; genuine people with a simple wish, to travel and forget their everyday troubles. They were the people who kept Sarah, and myself, sane whilst she went through the motions of romantic turmoil. They brought her back to reality, whilst ensuring she had hope in her life too.
The travel aspect of this book is really what kept me wanting more. I related to Sarah in the way that she loves to travel. She loves exploring, but she seems to have lost her way a little bit. Santorini is the beginning of her road back to herself. She wants a bigger life, something more fulfilling than her usual routine. I think everybody wants that. Everybody wants to go and explore somewhere new on the weekend; wants to enjoy their life to the full, no matter where they are; wants to actually live their life rather than watch it pass by. This book is a reminder to do that, to book that trip alone and meet people who will become your family; to explore a new part of the world that you can only dream of; to have a summer that you will never, ever, forget for so many different reasons.
The trip itself reminded me of the time I spent at sea sailing the Whitsundays in Australia. I remember the cold five minute showers, the tiny, tiny, cabins and I especially remember the hangovers at sea. At the time, I had fun, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the boat lifestyle. One Summer in Santorini made me want to do it all over again, want to appreciate every single moment and just stop to live in the moment. Like Sarah, I tend to think ahead, live by my watch, organise and plan. Like her, I want a(nother) trip where time doesn’t even seem to exist anymore.
The absolute crux of the novel, for me, was Greece itself. I could almost taste the delicious food and the not-so-nice wine; see the local people grinning and waving; feel the sea air as well as the warm glow of the summer sun. The love story itself may not have been sold to me, but Greece certainly was!
Have you, like Sarah, sailed around Santorini?
Love, Faye xo