The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas **Blog Tour Review and guest post**

We're off to Crete today on the blog tour to celebrate the publication of The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas.  First, a bit about the book...

We never forget the one who got away.

Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love with the mountains of Crete and life changed forever. Nell's daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again.

When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia - where everything began- Nell can't resist the urge to go back and find him.

Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there's plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does.

But if Nell's favourite romantic films are right, there's a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains...

    Greek food plays a major part in the story and to get us all in the mood, Jo is kindly sharing with us her Editor, Christina's recipe for Loukoumades- a greek speciality which crops up, together with lots of other delicious Greek dishes, throughout the story. 

Here's what Jo has to say about it:

 Christina’s recipe for Loukoumades.
When I was in Crete with my family, you could find Loukoumades around every corner in the nearby town and the smell was as intoxicating as their delicious taste. Sitting in front of a plate of freshly cooked warm loukoumades, drizzled in locaI honey is like stepping into a great big hug. What’s not to love about deep fried dough balls, golden on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, coated in sweet amber honey? My middle daughter thought she’d died and gone to heaven once she’d discovered this fabulous treat.
My editor Christina is from a Greek family. This is her family’s recipe for loukoumades…

Fresh yeast
Lukewarm water
Olive oil
Honey (thyme honey preferably)
Crushed walnuts

Dissolve 12½ grams of fresh yeast with a teaspoon of sugar, three tablespoons of flour and a dash of lukewarm water. Cover it and leave it until it starts bubbling.
Mix this with 210 grams of flour and 1/8 tsp salt. Add just under a cup of lukewarm water gradually, whisking until it turns into a thick batter. Cover and leave it so that it doubles in size.
Heat roughly 3cm of olive oil in a small pot.
Take small amounts of batter and place them in the hot oil, until the pot is full. Use a spoon dipped in olive oil to stop the dough sticking to the spoon.
Fry the dough balls until they are golden and doubled in sized.
Once fried, drizzle in honey and add crushed walnuts and cinnamon.

My Thoughts

Jo Thomas' descriptions of life in the Crete village of Vounoplagia take you right into the community, into the families who live there. The scenery, the sounds of the countryside, the scents of the herbs and plants and the delicious food which are all heavily featured give you the sense that you are really there, looking through Nell's eyes. I particularly enjoyed all the little details we are given about the villagers from the crocheting group, to Maria and Kostas' daily life on the farm. You get the feeling that this is a community which is waiting for something to happen.

    In Nell, we are given a central character with faults but an enormous heart. She is totally human in her reactions to events and her wish to find out the truth about what happened years ago. She is loyal to the villagers she meets and longs to belong. It is easy to identify with her feeling of loss as her daughter, Demi, has grown up and she is protective towards those she loves.  She turned out to be someone you wanted to follow through the story.

    I enjoyed the sections of the story which are set in Crete the most and found the times Nell was in London to be less involving. I do see that they are needed in the story so that you can see how Nell's life has panned out. She has quite a backstory. How lovely it would be to be sitting on a Cretan hillside, reading this book. I just had to let Jo Thomas' words take me there instead!

In short: warm, sensual and heartwarming- a great summer read.

About the Author

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 3, before moving on to Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children. 

Follow Jo here: Twitter   |  Website   |  Facebook

Thanks to Becky Hunter of Headline Publishing and Jo Thomas for a copy of the book and a place on the Tour via Bookbridgr.

Don't forget to check out what these great bloggers have to say! 


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