When Jo Parfitt announced that she was going to publish her debut novel she confessed that she was terrified. From someone who has published twenty-seven books this might come as a bit of surprise, but then Sunshine Soup, Nourishing the Global Soul is her first work of fiction, it’s something personal and that is scary. Previously Jo has written non-fiction amongst others, A Career in Your Suitcase (a bestseller), Release the Book Within and Write Your Life Story. She has even co-written a cook book, Dates, her second cook book. And now she has her novel Sunshine Soup to add to her impressive repertoire.
The story, although not a biography, is inspired by Jo’s own life. She has been an expatriate all of her married life and has seen the ins and outs, the good and the bad of living overseas. Sunshine Soup follows an English family from their comfortable life in England to the scorching dry desert of Dubai where they experience expat life for the first time.
The main character, Maya, soon discovers that once the boxes are unpacked and husband and children leave for work and school respectively, she is left on her own to re-create a life, from scratch. Unlike her structured life back home where she had co-owned a deli with her two best friends, in Dubai she is alone with not much to do. Help comes in the shape of Barb, a larger than life American and seasoned expat who has made it her mission to take stray expat wives under her wing.
With her newfound friends Maya slowly starts adjusting to life in Dubai and rekindles an old flame, her love for cooking. She finds solace and purpose in creating new recipes based on local produce. The book features fabulous recipes such as Anchovy and Lemon dip, Squash Goulash and. my favourite, Arabic Coffee Ice Cream. Seriously, it’s worth buying the book just for the recipes!
Whether you are a weathered expat or about to move overseas, Sunshine Soup will give you an insight into what you can expect. Jo has the knack of portraying stereotypes and making them into flesh and blood characters, so recognizable that when reading the book you will think that you know them. I certainly know Barb.