An Adriatic Love Affair by Jamie Kurow is a love story / romance novel, so it’s a little out of my normal reading category. But I’ve read Jamie Kurow’s two previous books (and reviewed them last year) and really liked them so I accepted an Advance Review Copy – and I really enjoyed this book.
If you liked Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, Five Quarters of an Orange, Blackberry Wine… you’ll really enjoy An Adriatic Love Affair, because as well as a love story, it’s a foodie and travel read.
Mary, the main character, travels from her home in New York, for her summer vacation. Her corporate lawyer husband pulled out of the trip at the last minute, as he has done for the past few summers, leaving her to wonder if she really even has a marriage.
Mary travels first to Munich where, most mysteriously, she receives a hand-written letter addressed to her by name, fore-telling that she will lose two important people in her life, but once she gets past these losses, she will find everlasting love.
She goes on to Budva, in Montenegro where she has rented an apartment for the summer vacation. She writes emails to her husband trying to understand why he did it again – bailed out on her and their vacation at the last minute. She also writes to her three teenage sons, asking them to join her. Budva is a small town on the Adriatic coast and Mary thinks it would be the perfect place for each of her teenage sons to spend the summer – swimming in the sea, hiking in the mountains, exploring the medieval towns and castles…
And Mary also meets and falls for Marko, the owner of an alluring little cafe/bakery near her apartment where she becomes a daily customer.
Her youngest son agrees to join her. As does, eventually, her eldest son. But the middle son, Nate, who we learn is mildly autistic, stops replying to her emails.
As Mary’s emails to her husband back in New York suggest that their relationship has ended / is ending, she becomes more and more charmed by Marko. But as much as she would like to fall in love with him, she can’t stop thinking that Nate is in danger and in need of her help.
And as that letter in Munich said, and as an elderly grandmother in Budva has also told her, until she finds Nate, she won’t find everlasting love.
One of the things I liked about Jamie Kurow’s earlier two books (A boy on an island in danger and murder@fort-willys) was their expertly-crafted, last-minute finishes. An Adriatic Love Affair has a great finish too, so I’ll stop describing the plot here.
Threaded throughout the story is a travelogue of the Montenegro coastal region. I holidayed there one summer about 15 years ago when the area was still a part of Serbia and this story has really captured the beauty of the sea which is utterly perfect for swimming in, the magic of the small medieval towns along the coast, and the dramatic hills that rise almost vertically out of the sea and the Bay of Kotor. And also, this book has managed to explore some of the local cuisine, my favourite of which was krempita – a pastry and vanilla-custard treat that has me right now thinking that maybe it’s time for a return trip to Budva. And because I can’t really describe krempita, here’s a picture…
Er…, the book. A highly-recommended read while at the beach or in the plane or on a train on the way to a summer vacation.