Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby
(Doubleday – August 1, 2017)
Thank you to Doubleday for providing me with a finished copy of this book for review – all opinions are my own.
PIECES OF HAPPINESS is a gorgeous novel of a fresh start for a group of Norwegian women in their late 60s as they come together again on a cocoa farm in Fiji. The descriptions and settings are incredibly lush and I was captivated by the Fijian culture depicted in the book. The stories of Sina, Lisbeth, Ingrid, Maya, and Kat are achingly realistic and wistful as the women figure out how enter the later stage of their lives together in an island paradise. There is grief and rebirth interwoven with the start of their new business venture creating chocolate for export back to Norway. The Fijian characters, including Ateca (Kat’s housekeeper and a main narrator of the book), and their culture in this story add an excellent layer of authenticity and richness.
In addition, I was most astounded by what I learned in the author’s note – this book was written originally in Norwegian and translated to English by one of the author’s daughters for the American release – I had NO idea that the book was not originally written in English while I was reading because it was done so expertly. Also, I was delighted to find that Ostby (who has traveled and lived in many parts of the world) worked closely with a woman in Fiji to ensure the authenticity of the portrayal of Fiji and its peoples.
Pick this one up if you are looking for a gorgeously written story set in a unique and exotic location + a cast of complex and heartfelt characters in a stage of life often ignored in contemporary fiction. Highly recommend.