Camino to Love by Yolanda Elso-Ponzo – Book Review

Camino to Love by Yolanda Elso-Ponzo – Book Review

Camino to Love by Yolanda Elso-Ponzo

Camino to Love

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Twenty-five-year-old Lily Harrison just lost her dad. Orphaned, unemployed and saddled with student debt, she discovers an envelope full of cash in her dad’s closet with instructions to take his dream trip to Pamplona, Spain, for the Festival of San Fermín. In the summer of 2010, practical Lily reluctantly embarks on this adventure to fulfill her dad’s last wish.

Immersed in the celebrations of the festival and the electric atmosphere of World Cup football, she meets the complicated Miguel. Lily’s once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain teaches her about the value of community, friendship and the possibility of love.

Review by Guest Reviewer Ada

Twenty-five-year-old Lily is grieving the loss of her father. Left with the task of clearing out his belongings, she unexpectedly comes across an envelope containing a final request: he wants her to visit the Spanish city of Pamplona, the beloved homeland of her grandfather.

At first, practical and cautious Lily is reluctant to accept this opportunity. However, with encouragement from her best friend, and the offer of a summer job teaching at a Spanish school, Lily is persuaded to venture out of her comfort zone, and heads to Pamplona. In a local pub, amidst the excitement of a World Cup game, she meets brooding, aloof Miguel – a man with his own complicated past. Both Lily and Miguel must battle to overcome their own traumas and insecurities, in order to open their hearts to love.

The use of Spanish words and references, which are scattered throughout the narrative, is an effective technique. This really helps set the scene, painting a lavish picture of Spain and its inhabitants. This is done in a subtle way, with intriguing descriptions of food (such as ‘iberico ham sandwiches’, and ‘pintxos’: a delicious Basque tapas dish) seamlessly woven into the story.

Lily and Miguel have a slow burning relationship and share a connection that is primarily emotional, as Lily helps Miguel deal with the repercussions of his sister’s car accident. There is sincerity and authenticity between this couple, upon which their sizzling chemistry is based.

Although I was initially worried that the football theme would be somewhat off-putting (the book is set during the World Cup), it wasn’t overwhelming, and was, actually, barely mentioned. Indeed, the atmosphere surrounding the event – one of hope, excitement, and endless possibilities – added a unique dimension to the romance.

Third-person narration is utilised throughout the book, with the author intermittently switching between Lily and Miguel’s point of view. However, I found each section to be a little on the short side, interrupting the smoothness of the narrative as a whole. Although there is a slight issue around inappropriate word choice – with English not being the author’s first language – this doesn’t substantially detract from the reader’s enjoyment of the story as a whole.

Camino to Love is a sweet, atmospheric novella, set in the backdrop of in sunny Spain. Elso-Ponzo has written a book that is a perfect summer read, with characters that are easy to relate to, and truly deserve their chance at finding everlasting happiness.

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Yolanda Elso-Ponzo

Yolanda Elso-Ponzo

Yolanda Elso-Ponzo was born in Pamplona, Spain, and has lived most of her life in Toronto, Canada. She has been privileged to work in the education sector. In her free time, travel, reading, yoga, history, and walking bring Yolanda much joy, as does spending time with her family and friends.

Camino to Love was written during the isolation of the COVID-19 lockdowns, providing a beautiful escape. This is Yolanda’s first novella.

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