If summer already seems a distant memory, it could be time to head off to Ireland’s beautiful Wexford coast and book into the cosy Bay Hotel.
Dublin-based Melissa Hill, one of Eire’s most popular authors, has a treat in store this autumn as she sweeps us across the Irish Sea to the pretty little seaside town of Mulberry Bay where love, life and death are set to make waves.
Hill, whose warm-hearted romances are full of the humour and irrepressible spirit of her native land, weaves together family, friendship and community in a beguiling tale inspired by the hotel in her home town of Cahir in County Tipperary.
Perched on a clifftop above a sweeping beach of golden sand and ochre pebbles and in the shadow of a huge sugarloaf mountain is The Bay Hotel, once the heart and soul of the pretty seaside town Mulberry Bay.
For generations, the homely attractions of the Victorian hotel have drawn in visitors from all over the world. Ned and Anna Harte have owned the hotel for years but its splendours are fast fading and now Anna, the welcoming face of the establishment, has died suddenly from a heart attack.
The couple’s two daughters, Elle and Penny, are having to confront the death of their beloved mother and the fact that their grieving father is facing a financial black hole. The hotel is haemorrhaging both visitors and money.
Younger sister Penny still lives close by and cannot imagine being anywhere other than Mulberry Bay, but it has been years since Elle, an ambitious, high-flying architect in London, has been back home.
Hard-edged Elle is reeling from the end of yet another romance while plump, easy-going Penny enjoys her quiet, comfortable life but is still hopeful that the right man will come along for her one day.
When it becomes apparent that the hotel is in dire straits, Elle and Penny are unprepared for their father’s reaction. He steadfastly refuses to give up the family legacy, revealing that he has given up something equally precious once before.
Shocked by the revelation of a painful sacrifice in their father’s past, the sisters unite, with the local community behind them, in their efforts to save the hotel and, in the process, heal the fractures in the Harte family.
The Hotel on Mulberry Bay, packed with quirky, lovable characters and their hopes, fears and dilemmas, is the perfect feelgood novel to add warmth and colour to long winter evenings.
The two very different sisters, their quest to restore the hotel to its former glory, the slow recovery of broken family bonds and their father’s unexpected revelations lie at the heart of a story that enchants, amuses and warms the cockles of your heart.
Throw in the gorgeous backdrop, a large helping of romance and Hill’s beautiful writing, and Mulberry Bay is the must-visit destination for all those in need of a sunshine escape.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)