Under the Sun
Review: Roshiela Moonsamy
After reading this novel I felt like I had a glimpse into an episode of somebody’s life in which they had thrown caution to the wind and come out broken and bruised.
The main character, Anna, and all the other Brits around her, find themselves stuck in a Spanish beach town during the financial crash at the end of the last decade. Having invested all their money in businesses and property that now have no value, they are desperately looking for a way to leave.
Like the others, Anna came to Spain to live out a dream but also to impress her boyfriend who eventually abandons her despite the massive effort she makes to buy and renovate a farm into a home for them.
While Anna tries to rebuild her life in a hopeless situation, we soon start getting the bigger picture of the town called Marea.
The book draws comparison between the Brits who came over on their life’s savings to retire under the sun and those from Africa who are ferried across by unscrupulous traffickers as they desperately seek a new life.
While both groups of people find themselves in a compromising situation, effectively all stranded in a foreign country, the Brits are loathe to see the similarities, preferring to call themselves expats but the Africans migrants.
We also start seeing the resentment of the local people towards the Brits as well as their ignorance of the place they have come to live in. Anna herself gets caught out by not knowing who the hippie living on the beach really is, though the local Spaniards seem to know the truth.
In fact, all her revelations about the town seem to come after she agrees to rent out the farm to an old local boy. Cash-strapped, she agrees to the deal without so much as a second thought but soon strange things start to happen, including a body being washed up on the beach, and they all seem to point to the people on her property.
The book isn’t always eventful, sometimes following Anna binge drinking, series watching and having illicit sexual affairs to fill her time, but Lottie Moggach is a gifted author and this book is extremely well-written. The story holds your attention through all the ups and downs and I read it quickly.
Also adding to the complexity of the main character is her relationship with her family, particularly her parents, who seem to think she is living a wonderful life in a warm, idyllic setting. It just adds to the heaps of disappointment she ends up facing.
In the end, cheated and defeated, Anna finally finds the courage to do what she thinks right.
This story might make you think twice about going in search of a better life in what, from the outside, looks like paradise.