Ever been to Pigpen?

The vacationers

vacationers-978144726285501 The story in a nutshell – 

An American family goes for a two-week vacation to Mallorca.

They’re off to celebrate: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Sylvia, has just graduated from high school.

The sun, sand and sangria should therefore herald the perfect backdrop to the feel good factor within the family. However it soon becomes obvious that all is not well and that the sun will be too hot, the sand will stick to everything and the sangria will make you sick  – for the family has carried more baggage to Mallorca than the suitcases containing their clothes. When this emotional baggage is unpacked bit by bit, well, stand back….

From the streets of New York to the sunny Balearic island, the Post family is to have a holiday they will never forget  –

The characters

Although this holiday is for an anniversary, Franny and Jim are having major problems in their relationship, yet are trying to keep this  a secret from the rest of the family.

I couldn’t personally say that I liked Franny at all – judgmental much? but she is a fascinating character all the same. A woman trying to hold everything together whilst falling apart at the seams.

Sylvia also has secrets. Bobby the youngest child lives far from home and he brings his girlfriend Carmen on the trip. But not everything is happy in their relationship either. Which Sylvia soon discovers…

Another couple there at the resort is Charlie and Lawrence who are waiting to hear about their adoption success. Their story was enjoyable to read and how they related to the Post family and to each other on their time away was a nice addition to the overall family set up.

The setting

Ready for a vacation in Mallorca?

Not surprisingly, the booktrail was very excited about heading to Mallorca today. Having spent a rather sunny weekend reclining in a deckchair on a beach (purely to recreate the book setting I am reading for research purposes), I was inspired to imagine myself on this island.And to the town of Pigpen….yes you heard right –

The Church in 'Pigpen'

 The house was in the foothills of the Tramuntana, Mountains on the far side of the town of Puigpunyent, on the winding road that would eventually lead to Valldemossa.

No one could pronounce Puigpunyent…..and so when Sylvia insisted on calling it Pigpen, Jim and Franny couldn’t correct her and Pigpen it was.

The setting, despite its nickname of Pigpen and everything that conjures up, is idea for a vacation – even the drive up to the house is the perfect introduction to the island for the reader as much as it is for Jim – 

 Heading up the mountain, Jim took several wrong turns on roads that looked too narrow to be two-way streets and not just someone’s well -paved driveway, but no one particularly minded, because it gave them a better introduction to the island.

Mallorca

Mallorca was a layercake – the gnarled olive trees and spiky palms, the green-gray mountains, the chalky stone walls along either side of the road, the cloudless pale blue sky overhead.

Jim headed up the hill. Mallorca was dustier than he’d anticipated, less rolling and green than Tuscany or Provence…

Spanish life

The grocery store in Palma was heavenly. Franny and Charles clutched each other at the head of every isle. The packaging was sublime, even on canned sardines and tubes of tomato paste. Being in a foreign country made even the smallest differences seem like art.

Oh how this took me back to Spain – the beans in a glass jar with a lid, the tubes of tomato paste, ornate jars of olive oil. Aaah yes and as for the amazing Serrano ham displays…. I am now so hungry at this point.

Days out on the island –

The harbour at Deià

The family have a day out in Deià – to visit the house of  Robert Graves, the poet and writer of many novels such as I, Claudius. He was born in London to an Irish father and German mother and spent much of his married life in Deià, Mallorca until his death in 1985 –

The house was just past Deià proper, on the road that led out of town. It had been a  museum for just half a dozen years, but like many writer’s homes that are open to the public, great pains had been taken to make the house look little changed  since Graves’ prime.

Actually this book is a booktrail classic as it is practically an informal guide to not only the island of Mallorca but the customs, food and weather of Spain as a whole.

Why not visit the Miró museum for example? with Miró’s playful paintings and drawings on the wall and be sure to taste the albóndigas -little meatballs swimming in tomato sauce; patatas bravas, fried potatoes of cream run back and forth over the top,  pa amb oli, the Majorcan answer to Italy’s bruschetta.

Nom nom nom

And just be pleased that you are not a member of the Post family. With highly dysfunctional families, it’s great to take such great characters that make your head spin, people that you get to know in ways you wish you hadn’t and people you’re just pleased that you are not on holiday with yourself.

Sit back on your deckchair or your armchair and enjoy your time with the vacationers. 

 

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