Can life begin again from a new perspective for five old high school friends after the age of sixty? Newly widowed Kat sends an invitation to Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth to join her in Fiji and find out. Each accepts and brings a lifetime, with roots in their early years, in need of sorting out together. Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby follows the women as they look to answer the question.
There is single mother Sina with the son she chose to keep over her mother’s objections after a teenage pregnancy, a son now 50 years old and still expecting financial bailout from his mother. Maya comes as early onset Alzheimer’s Disease begins its destruction of her mind and body. Ingrid arrives with her less inhibited alter ego seeking to emerge. Lisbeth, who seemingly has had it all, needs to find out who she really is now that youthful beauty becomes harder to maintain. And Kat herself, who has lived the maverick lifestyle in the interim and issues the invitation, has unresolved secrets. Will renewing the old friendships give them a new lease on life? Do they want to stay and start a chocolate business together?
The story line rotates among the friends and a secondary character Ateca, Kat’s housekeeper. Ateca sees and understands each of the group and the dynamics of their interaction together and may be my favorite character. Speaking her wisdom periodically through prayer, she mingles her concern for the women with her own hopes that her son Vilivo can find work and start a family. “Calm Madam Sina’s worries for her child, dear Lord. And calm my worries for Vilivo. Let him find work, so he can support himself, become an adult, and start a family. In Jesus holy name. Emeni.”
The author, Norwegian Anne Ostby, is a world citizen herself having lived in several countries and writes often on themes of finding identity in a country not one’s own. The book publication is international with the English translation done by her daughter Marie.
Pieces of Happiness is a good read that can be appropriately enhanced by pairing it with some fine chocolate.