After the author sells his successful London art business, he and his wife Ivana (of Croatian decent) decide to make a drastic change by moving to the tiny Croatian island of Vis. They purchase a villa, and with the proceeds from the sale of their business, they’re able to renovate their new home. Along the way, they meet some very eccentric, but mostly likable islanders who are quite vocal about the recent war and other matters (mostly political).
Notes From a Very Small Island is a clever blend of personal memoir, travel guide and quirky observations about life and politics. A great deal of the book centers around Croatia’s rich, often troubled and ancient history – something I had little knowledge of prior to reading this book, yet I found it fascinating. The author’s descriptions of the island of Vis were vivid enough for me to have a real sense of what it’s like to live there.
Anthony Stancomb has a humorous, interesting, unique and ever so slightly snarky style of writing. He seems to be a man who sees humor in almost any situation, which makes for entertaining reading. I wondered what Ivana thought of some of his descriptions of her and her mishaps – in particular her white dress incident. I can only assume she’s an understanding and devoted wife. Although, there were times when she let him have it right back when it was necessary, which I also enjoyed.
Adding a “cast of characters” to the story was a genius move on the author’s part. It provides the opportunity to see things from a variety of perspectives. Dario the radio show host and Karmela the housekeeper were two of my favorites. The ending is lovely, hopeful and positive. I get a sense that there are still more stories to be told here. If the author decides to write another follow-up novel I’d read it!
5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton
Many dream about upping sticks and leaving the humdrum of urban living for a new life of blue skies, warm sun and sparking seas – so for Anthony and Ivana Stancomb, moving from Fulham to the island of Vis, the remotest island off the coast of Croatia, was an easy enough decision. However, fitting in with not the friendliest of islands, was one of the hardest things they’d ever had to do, and it took time to win over their new community.
Under a Croatian Sun takes the reader on a journey to a bizarre, ramshackle village by the water – a place defined by its colorful and often tragic history, its unique café culture, its fishing tradition and its potent wine.
It traces their transformation from foreigners to islanders against a backdrop of feuding families, fearsome grandmothers, star-cross’d lovers, mafia-run night clubs, and the establishment of an island cricket team. A warming and amusing account of how home can be wherever you make it.