Today I am delighted to welcome Chris Penhall to my blog to talk about her new book, The House on the Hill.
Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South-West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
Welcome Chris, so lovely to have you here today.
Thanks for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my latest novel, The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, which is the third in my Portuguese Paradise series of books.
Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?
This is the third in your Portuguese paradise series – Can you tell us a bit about the setting as it is clearly a special place to you?
This story is set in Lagos, a gorgeous city in the western Algarve. It’s a place I visit frequently and feels like another home to me, so I wanted to feature it in this book as it is such a big, positive part of my life, and has been for some time. I’ve brought one character down from Cascais, and there are cameo appearances from a few others from the first two books, but this novel focuses on Layla Garcia, who runs a yoga and mindfulness studio called The House on the Hill, as well as her family and friends.
Lagos to me is many things – it is both calm and serene and vibrant and fun. It’s full of warmth – quite literally as its in southern Europe – and kindness, vitality, music, laughter and beauty. I can happily sit on the sands of Meia Praia and stare at the sea for hours, amble to a beach bar for a lovely galao (milky coffee Portuguese style), then potter back towards the Marina and its bars and restaurants before having a refreshing swim in a cool pool, followed by a long sit on a shaded balcony to read a book. Then it’s off into town for a bite to eat, with a stroll by the river along the Avenida to work up an appetite.
In the summer, the city is full of music, with buskers serenading passers-by, hair braiders, henna tattooists and painters in the main square, around the granite statue of Dom Sebastiao, which usually has a living statue standing next to it. The road train trundles along, up towards Ponte de Piedade, with its honey-gold rocks, gazing over the sea to the shimmering silver of Alvor and Portimao in the distance. Then it trundles back to the city centre and back along Meia Praia, before starting its journey again. Meia Praia by the way translates to half beach. But it is, actually, rather a long beach – roughly 4.5 kilometres from one end to the other. I love a fun fact!
Every day, the pleasure boats take day trippers out to spot dolphins far out at sea, or to gaze at the grottoes, or travel further west towards Cape Saint Vincent, and yachts sail gracefully under the river bridge to berth overnight before beginning their adventures the following morning.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Did I mention the House on the Hill is set in Lagos because I love Lagos?
I think you did Chris, and it does sound truly amazing, thank you so much for joining me here today?
Time for a vinho verde.
You can find more information about Chris at:
On twitter: @ChrisPenhall
Website: House on the Hill (rubyfiction.com)