Monica Ali's stunning second book is a collection of stories set in the Alentejo province of Portugal, linked by characters and by a vivid sense of place and time.
Teresa is a beautiful young girl from the village who is supposed to marry a suitable man from the same community but who wants to see the world. Vasco is a café owner who is losing business to the new internet café down the road. The unseemly dysfunctional but strangely riveting Pottses are a family of ex-patriots, trying to cobble a life together, at odds with one another until they run into trouble on the outside. We also meet several English tourists: a young couple engaged to be married and confronting each other's weaknesses and idiosyncrasies for the first time and an older woman imagining a new life and fantasizing about never returning home.