Wednesday 1 June 2022

Tasting Sunlight, Ewald Arenz (trans. by Rachel Ward)

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This post is part of the blog tour for the book. Thanks to Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

On a hot September morning Sally runs away from the clinic where she is being treated for anorexia. Liss is steadily going about her business in the fields when her tractor gets caught in a ditch. Sally stopping to help sets in motion a friendship that will change both of their lives. Liss invites Sally to stay the night and soon she’s been there for several weeks, eagerly absorbing information about the farm. Her parents are searching for her, and the new friends can’t stay in their little bubble forever - will the progress they’ve made be strong enough to survive the intrusion of the outside world?

When Sally arrives she is angry and distrustful, tired of the endless fake concern of those paid to look after her. She finds Liss refreshing - she doesn’t ask probing questions, and when she asks for assistance Sally knows she can say no if she wants to. Her life has so often felt out of her control and disjointed, as though she were born into the wrong family, that this new-found autonomy does her the world of good. She loves being around nature and learning how to use the produce to make food and drink. On the farm exercise feels purposeful, and it helps her begin to reframe her relationship with her body.

Liss harbours a lot of hurt - ghosts of her father make it hard for her to enjoy the land, and there’s an unspecified loss that sucks the meaning out of her life. Sally’s presence gives her company for the first time in many years, and her innocent wonder at her home offers her the opportunity to see her life through new eyes. She resists the temptation to intervene, but there are moments where she slips up and things become fraught between the two of them. Sally sometimes pushes too hard to get to the bottom of Liss’s secrets, seemingly unaware of the contradiction between her own desire for privacy and her actions.

In the latter parts of the book we learn more about Liss’s past and why she has ended up alone, living a life she never wanted. It is a sad tale, and when Sally learns snippets of it through third parties she is forced to confront how much she really knows about this woman who she lived with for a month.

Farm life is described vividly, and although the hard work and less desirable aspects of it are not hidden, it sounds quite idyllic. The changing of the seasons and the shifting landscape are brought to life. You can clearly picture the colours, the drops of rain on the plants, the smells and noises. Ultimately it feels peaceful and wholesome and it is this combined with friendship that helps both Liss and Sally see a little hope in the world.

This is a beautiful, evocative book that will transport you to another life. I didn’t want to leave.

Tasting Sunlight is out on 23rd June 2022, pre-order your copy:


  1. This sounds like an excellent read, the synopsis really drew me it from the start. Thank you for sharing, I'll be looking out for this one!

  2. The back story of Liss sounds really intriguing; I like that about stories/characters so this will go on my reading list!