by Monica Ali
Alentejo Blue is the story of the Portuguese village of Mamarrosa told through the lives of those who live there and those who are passing through - men and women, children and old people, locals, tourists and expatriates. For some, such as Teresa, a beautiful, dreamy village girl, it is a place from which to escape; for others - the dysfunctional Potts family - it is a way of running from trouble (but not eluding it). Vasco, a cafe owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years in America make him superior to the other villagers.
One English tourist makes Mamarrosa the subject of her fantasy of a new life, while for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams finally fall apart. At the book's opening an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this beautiful and seemingly tranquil setting, and anticipates the return of Marco Afonso Rodrigues, the prodigal son of the village and a symbol of this now fast-changing world. The homecoming is the subject of continuing speculation, and when Marco Afonso Rodrigues does finally appear, villagers, tourists and expatriates are brought together and jealousies, passions and disappointments must inevitably collide.