Sunday, 31 March 2013

Irish Fiction Month Review: Siobhan McKenna - The Other Woman

Kennedy's Cafés & Chocolate is about to celebrate its centenary year. Four generations of Kennedys have mastered the flavours of chocolate and coffee. Now, Owen Kennedy is expanding the business into the world of wine. 

Ruby Hart has worked her way up the corporate ladder to become Owen's right-hand woman. Excited by the challenge of introducing wine to the cafés, she sets off with Owen to meet their prospective partners, the Boselli family, on their wine-growing estate near Lake Garda, Italy. 

However, as Ruby's taste buds are awakened to new possibilities, other desires are also ignited, and amorous farmhand Alfonso is determined that she experiences the true taste of Italy. And is Owen's relationship with Emma Boselli strictly business? 

Meanwhile, Owen's wife Katherine is invited to Africa by the Kenyan Coffee Growers Society. There, she finds herself enraptured by the Maasai culture as the heat and dark intensity of Kenya arouses feelings she'd thought she'd lost forever. 

It seems that the Kennedys passions lie everywhere but with their business. Responsibilities seem to pile increasingly on Ruby's shoulders. But Ruby has her own secrets to protect and all may not be as it first appears.

The Other Woman follows Owen Kennedy, his wife Katherine and his right-hand woman Ruby Hart, who between them run the successful Kennedy Cafes and Chocolate business which is approaching its centenary year.  When Ruby suggests that they expand the business and start to offer wine in their cafes, Owen agrees and soon he and Ruby are off to Italy to meet their potential suppliers, the Boselli family.

Whilst Owen and Ruby are in Italy, Katherine is off on her own trip to the Maasai Mara in Kenya on the search for cocoa beans for their coffee, but she soon gets to experience a whole lot more when she meets her guide Enzi.   

Although the business is booming, their personal relationships are not.  Owen and Katherine are practically strangers living separate lives following a personal tragedy, whereas Ruby, although still technically married to husband Paul despite separating many years before, is having to cope with empty nest syndrome now that her twin sons are off travelling in Australia.  But it's soon apparent that this summer there could be romance on the cards for all of them.

As the story progresses you cannot help but be drawn into their respective journeys and want them to find true happiness, whether it's together or apart, especially Ruby who was my favourite of the three main characters.

I would definitely recommend reading this book with a chilled glass of Prosecco and a box of luxury chocolates to hand as the descriptive writing of chocolates being made, and the wine being sampled, will make you crave some for yourself. 

Siobhan McKenna is definitely one of the new crop of Irish authors who I look forward to reading more from in the future.  I have to confess that her debut novel, The Lingerie Designer, is still sat in my TBR pile to read when I get the chance. 

1 comment:

  1. Delighted to see this review. Thanks Shaz's Book Blog!