When Nell’s work factory closes down for refurbishment following a fire, leaving her without work for several weeks, she decides to head back to Vounoplagia in Crete as a Wwoofer, which – for those not in the know – means volunteering with the World Wide Organisation of Organic Farmers.
Nell chose Crete because many years ago she had a holiday romance there, which resulted in her teenage daughter, Demi. Nell has always wondered what might have been if she had stayed with Demi’s father and sets off to find out.
She has organised work and accommodation with a small family on a hilltop honey farm, although it isn’t going well as there are no bees. Nell suspects she knows why and sets about doing some investigating. But somehow the more she finds out about village life and the secrets in the hills the less she seems to know.
The Honey Farm on the Hill is a neat, tidy and well-executed story, which I did find a little predictable at times but then again, I read hundreds of books. It has lovely characters with Nell and Demi and Maria, Kostas and Mitera at the farm, and her ex-boyfriend’s best friend Georgios as the archetypal grumpy villager with lots of secrets.
The story has a wonderful sense of place and a great storyline too, focussing on the ecological balance of the island and the way tourism, in particular all-inclusive resorts, threaten that way of life. Jo Thomas has obviously really done her research and there are more than a few words of wisdom in there for all of us to consider.
Overall this is a lovely, light holiday read, easy to pick up and put back down when the kids need some attention.
The Honey Farm on the Hill was published by Headline on 24 August 2017