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    Thoroughly Enjoyable Book

    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. What initially drew me to this book was that the central characters are women in their late 60s, almost my age group (note: I said almost). By the end of the book, age is irrelevant as the message is clearly for all. Kat, recently widowed, sends this letter to her four high school friends in Norway: “I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!” Who could resist? What would I do? At Kat’s cocoa plantation, they start a gourmet cocoa business, struggle to renew their friendship, eventually become a sisterhood and discover pieces of happiness along the way. ach of the chapters is narrated by one of the six central characters, giving the reader an intimate glimpse into very different lives: Kat, the volunteer who spent her life traveling around the world and trying to leave it a better place now faces life alone. Sina, a single mom with an ungrateful child who finally decides to put herself first. Ingrid, the spinster bookkeeper who lets her alter ego, Wildrid shine. Lisbeth, the materialistic one whose marriage provided only material things now finds other things to make her happy. Maya, the retired schoolteacher, so full of knowledge that is now slipping away due to Alzheimer’s. Ateca, Kat’s Fijian housekeeper who watches, sees, worries and prays over all the women. To sum up the book, this quote from Ateca says it all: “The ladies in the house are like a necklace made of shells: from the same beach, but all of them a little different. Each one worries for the next one on the string.” This was a thoroughly enjoyable book with occasionally poetic writing, great character development and a glimpse into another culture. There was also a point to make for women of all ages, that life is short so enjoy it while you can, we should be kinder to each other and second chances are allowed.
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    Difficult novel to wade through!

    Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby is the story of five friends starting a new lease on life in their 60s. Kat had finally settled down in Korototoka, Fiji with her husband, Nicklaus after year of traveling. Unfortunately, they only got to enjoy Vale nei Kat, the cocoa plantation, for a few years before he passed away. Kat wrote to her four high school friends (that she has not seen in forty years) inviting them to join her in Fiji. It will give all them a chance to reconnect and start a new venture together. Ingrid, Sina, Lisbeth, Maya and Kat had never thought they would get such an opportunity and leap at the opportunity. Their golden years will be filled with friendship, happiness and chocolate. Each one of them have secrets they wish to keep hidden, but it is hard to do with good friends. The first thing the five of them need to decide is how to make the farm profitable. Soon Kat’s Chocolate is born. Can they make a success of the business? Can the five friends live out the rest of their days together? See how these five women fare in this book about friendship, second chances and healthy chocolate. Pieces of Happiness was not a pleasant read for me (made me wish we could read a preview before agreeing to review). The POV alternates between the five women and the housekeeper which made it confusing (especially if you put the book down and then come back to it hour later). All the characters are thrown at you and I never did get them straight (they each have a different story). I found the pace to be slow (plodding). The writer is overly descriptive and likes flowery prose (which I found off putting). It reminded me of how people talked in the 1960s (based on movies, not actual experience—just to clarify). Think San Francisco, Haigh-Ashbury, laid back islands, crystals, Zen. I believe I am too sensible for this novel. The writing seemed clunky (for lack of a better word) and the book was too long (you can see why I started skimming—my term for speedreading). It could be (in part) the translation of the writing from the author’s native language to English (but this should have been corrected by the editor). I found the story a little boring and it ended as expected. I give Pieces of Happiness 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). I tried several times to get into and read this novel (the blurb made it sound good). I ended up skimming through the book to see what happened to each character (I always finish a book I agreed to review).

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