Anna Nicholas has done it again. Her third book in her sequence about living two lives, as a resident of sun-drenched Mallorca, and a PR mover and shaker in Mayfair and beyond, is as joyful, hilarious and as full of quirky insights as its predecessors.
Except, what makes this book a clever departure from the other two, is Anna's passionate foray in to archaelogy, focusing on Myotragus the miniature goat, who scampered over Mallorcan wastes in ancient times. Anna's respectful evocation of Dorothea Bates's discovery of the enigmatic creature is moving and entertaining in equal measure, and adds depth and contrast to Anna's own, and continuing voyage of discovery.
Whilst Myotragus is the wonderfully offbeat focus of the book, we can also delight along the way at the progress towards completion of Anna's hotel for cats, which, with the emphasis on creatures very much alive today (!), and mewing for bed and board and plenty of stroking whilst their owners are away on holiday, provides feline counterpoint to the archaelogical storyline.
But let's not forget the richly varied, at times hilarious, human menagerie which always makes reading Anna Nicholas such a treat. From sultry, sulky models who are refusing to do a swimming pool dive during a photoshoot for fear that their dyed blonde hair will turn green, to highly exacting cross-dressing clients, to her ever-smiling, long-suffering "Scotsman" who takes furtive refuge in smoking his beloved "puros", and an overweight Mallorcean postman who insists on taking up jogging alongside our heroine, this book is a constant source of entertainment, and a fund of delicious anecdotes.
But beneath all the surface humour and good fun, Anna can still movingly remind us of the eternities that came before, as Myotragus paced around the island chomping on the vegetation of his day; and the eternities in worlds beyond, as her son Ollie gazes at the stars in awe on a summer's night, through a battered astronomical telescope.