Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Anne Ostby (4 Stars)

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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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