retire with chocolate and friends

Kat and her husband spent their life together traveling the world and trying to leave places better than they found them. All their humanitarian efforts were fulfilling, but they didn't leave time for children. And when it was time to retire, they bought a cocoa farm in Fiji, to spend their final decades together on the beach, enjoying the tropical climate and harvesting cocoa beans. However, an unfortunate accident left Kat alone, and she comes up with an idea on how to deal with her empty house. 

Hence the letter. 

One letter each, to her four best friends from their Norwegian high school, inviting each of them to a room in her house. A free retirement, and in Fiji. Sina, a single mother whose grown son never really found his place, is looking for an escape from what she feels is a dreary life. Ingrid, a solid and dependable woman, has always wanted to unleash her wild side. Lisbeth has spent her life looking beautiful, and she is tired of how her husband has traded her in for younger models as time went by. And Maya, beloved by her daughter, is starting to struggle with health issues. 

As they all gather together in Fiji, these 60-year-old women put their relationships to the test. Old resentments mix with tropical breezes as the women deal with everything that they left behind to come to Fiji and everything that they are facing in their new lives. New bonds form as they get to know each other all over again, new challenges are faced, and old friends find forgiveness. 

Originally written in Norwegian and translated to English (among many other languages), Pieces of Happiness is a moving story of women reinventing themselves in retirement and discovering the joys and struggles of growing older. Author Anne Ostby looks deeply at the ties that bind us and the ones that can wedge us apart, reminding us of what's really important in life and what can be tossed in the wind to be carried away. The novel is told through the voices of the women, so we get a true insider's look at each woman's life and mind. And as a bonus, we get the thoughts and prayers of Ateca, Kat's housekeeper, who offers us the perspective of a native islander and whose compassion and insight offers a lovely counterpoint to the women and their individual challenges. 

Pieces of Happiness is a moving, gorgeous novel about women's friendships. It's as refreshing as a vacation on a beach, with a chocolate chaser. I highly recommend you take this trip!


Galleys for Pieces of Happiness were provided by Doubleday Books through, with many thanks.