Book Review: The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley

An unforgettable story of past love and family secrets, set in sunny Seville

Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet. Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?

Holly has made a decision. She is leaving her stressful job in Brighton and is moving back home to Dorset to pursue her dream of opening her own shop, Bitter Orange.

Knowing her mother has always loved Seville and has not visited since the 1980’s, Holly is a little confused when Ella doesn’t seem enthusiastic about the trip and she starts to ask questions when they go to source stock for the new shop. What awaits Holly in Seville? What is her mother hiding?

The Orange Grove was my introduction to Rosanna Ley and so, when I began The Orange Grove, I didn’t know what to expect but the cover alone was a good sign. It’s so pretty. I always love when books are set in Dorset. Growing up there, it holds a special place for me.

It didn’t take long for this story to draw me in. Rosanna’s descriptions of Seville felt so dreamy and vivid. I could imagine myself in that setting, surrounded by beautiful oranges trees. I could smell the orange blossoms. I could see myself in the hustle and bustle. I have never visited Seville but now I want to. It sounds stunning.

Told from the point of view of Holly, Ella and Felix, in the present and via flashbacks, I liked seeing how Holly and Ella developed over the course of the novel and the parallels between them and their stories – how similar but also how different their situations were. Holly is beginning a new chapter and Ella needs to say goodbye to one.

Holly is a strong character and I liked how fiercely she went for what she wanted.

Ella was a little harder to read at the beginning. The author did a good job of making me feel empathy for Ella, despite what happened with her on her original visit to Seville. It’s true. You can’t help who you fall in love with.

Caleb, Rafael and Felix are brilliant supporting characters. Like the girls, they have their flaws and this made them relatable and real. Caleb is a little bit of a bad boy though (no more spoilers, I promise.)

This novel is a wonderful way to disappear to Seville for a while.  The Orange Grove is about family, loyalty and love but above all, it’s about having faith – in others, in yourself and in your convictions. It’s pure romantic escapism at its finest. I loved it.

Happy publication day to Rosanna Ley. Thank you to her and to Quercus for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Rosanna Ley: 

Rosanna Ley has had ten novels published by Quercus Books.

She has worked as a creative writing tutor for many years and has written articles and stories for a number of national magazines.

Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

Say hello to Rosanna via Twitter or her website

The Orange Grove was released in paperback by Quercus on 24th June 2021. Click to view on Amazon UK.


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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