Meet Me Under the Ombu Tree by Santa Montefiore: A review

Meet me under the Ombu tree is the first book I’ve read by Santa Montefiore and given the hopeless romantic that I am, I loved it.

It starts off in Argentina and the author does an amazing job of making us feel like we’re right there, part of the story. Her descriptions are on point without being excessive. Although Sofia is the main character, the author does a great job of making every character very personable.

Sofia is witty, loyal, daring and intelligent as well as stubborn, proud and feisty. She is the centre of attention at Santa Catalina (home to the Solanas family) and loved by all. That is until she falls in love with the wrong man and is sent away to Switzerland by her parents. She then moves to England where she starts her life over and given her propensity for being proud, it isn’t until over 20 years later that she returns home to Argentina.

This book is about forbidden love, sacrifice, loss, starting over, living with our regrets and learning to forgive. While it may appear predictable, the author throws enough twists and turns across the pages to keep us wandering what’s going to happen next. It took a while to get into it (mainly because I just don’t have the time I used to have to read these days) but by the time I was half way through, I couldn’t put the book down.

I’d definitely recommend this book, I was almost sad to finish it this evening.

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A life less ordinary #BYOM

I’ve always thought it important to live a life filled with love, laughter, wonder and have experiences to look back on, with no regrets….to live a life less ordinary. To live the best life I can live, as long as I’m living. And this so happens to be notonthehighstreet.com’s mantra.

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About 10 days ago, the lovely ladies at Mumsnet sent out an invite for bloggers to attend a glamorous event hosted by NOTHS in lieu of mother’s day on the 30th of March. I sent through my interest and was chosen as one of the bloggers. So off I went last night to the uber posh No. 5 Cavendish Square. As we entered we were offered the choice of Champagne or some really yummy Gin and Lychee cocktail. There were waiters walking around with plates of mini Halloumi Burgers, Beef Burgers and other light bites. As the evening went on they served salad, mushroom risotto and fish and chips in a bowl (really good posh fish and chips!)

The theme was #BYOM (Bring your own mum) but as mine couldn’t make it this week, I took my dear friend Anni instead. There was a wooden tree at the entrance and wooden hearts on the bar. Everyone was invited to write words of advice or a wish on the heart and hang it on the tree.

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The evening started off with Holly Tucker (Founder of NOTHS – we got to chat to her later in the evening and she was lovely) giving a brief introduction followed by a presentation delivered by Odette Toilette (who incidentally told me her name was Lizzie 10 minutes prior to going on stage?!). One of the things NOTHS are about to launch is experience days. So we’re not talking about race car driving or hot air ballooning but instead as Odette so beautifully presented, an example would be a perfume workshop. Over her 10 minute presentation, she handed out 3 different feathers doused in 3 different fragrances. One from each era. When it came to the one from the 80/90s, she had most of us in the room ooh’ing and aah’ing as we reminisced our youth: the days of hyperglobal t-shirts (yes, I had one of those), dummys on strings and trolls. As well as White Musk and Dewberry from the body shop. It’s funny how a simple scent can transport us back 15-20 years while the memories attached to that scent wash over us.

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After that we had a break to get something to eat (read: drink more champagne!) and take some funky pictures in the photo booth room. I absolutely love photo booths, it’s an opportunity to muck about, have fun and style yourself with all the various props. Although with only 3 seconds between each picture, you can see Anni and I missed our shot a couple of times!!

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The next bit of entertainment was in the form of comedian Shappi Khorsandi (Anni and I got a chance to chat to her by the Cloak Room before we left. Unfortunately she’s off to Australia for a month but I’ll definitely be looking at when she’s next doing a gig in London, I thought she was hilarious!) 

NOTHS are in the market of creating special, bespoke, personalised gifts. Gifts that say “I thought this through…” For mother’s day they have a wide variety of mum and grandma appropriate gifts. My two favourite are:

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They had pedestals around the room depicting all the roles moms play in our lives. My favourite was “Thanks for being my life long phone a friend” 🙂

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At the end of the evening I was very chuffed when I was asked to give a little interview on motherhood and the event of the evening. Those who know me can’t shut me up when I start talking about S or my love of being a mom!!

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With the thrill of being on camera and aching feet from wearing high heels after such a long time, we headed home. But not before receiving a fabulous little goddie bag from NOTHS.

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Thanks notonthehighstreet.com and Mumsnet for a fabulous evening. I’m off to order my mom something in time for Mother’s Day next weekend.

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul: A review

I read The little coffee shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez as one of my book group books. Years ago I’d read The Kabul beauty school by the same author.

The books are very similar in that they are about an American lady who goes to Kabul and sets up shop. In the first book she opens a beauty school and trains girls to be hairdressers in the hope of empowering them. Helping them get jobs and have a brighter future. In the second book, Sunny, the main character runs a coffee shop.

I enjoyed both books but they aren’t books I’d read again. They’re well written, easy to read, feel good but very predictable books. The one thing I did like about The little coffee shop of Kabul was the way the writer depicted love conquering the strict Muslim conservatism (but then again I’m a sucker for love).

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There are several characters in the book but it mainly revolves around Sunny (it’s her coffee shop), Halajan (she owns the shop), her son Ahmet, Yasmina, Jack, Candace (wealthy American) and Isabelle (daring and inquisitive journalist). It’s about love, sacrifice, fear and tradition.

If you want something to read on the beach that’s easy, go for it. But expect the clichés and the stereotypes that go with the theme.