A charming and delightful novel set in a little Algarve fishing village. Young Alexandre is at odds with family and friends and has teenage dreams of owning a motorbike and working in the circus, while suffering unfulfilled love for a local girl. He is mentored by his eccentric grandfather who recounts stories about village history and local legends as Alexandre accompanies him on his donkey and cart rambles, selling homemade Medronho.
Alexandre’s father works for the local Câmara and there is much muttering and discontent in the village as a local shady businessman seems to be using influence to change the cobbled alleys and sandy shores of the peaceful village to cater to the relentless tide of tourism. Alexandre’s elder sister, Maria, is engaged to José, a foolhardy fisherman and serious flirt who wants to win the regional fishing contest and stem the tourist tide. While all the family’s spare cash seems, to Alexandre, to be being spent on Maria’s ‘marriage drawer’, there is none left for his motorbike or for anything other than sardines for dinner. As rifts grow between the villagers, the mood darkens and the local annual fishing contest and parade party are threatened.
This lighthearted and well-written story grows on you as the local characters lives gradually unfold. Although at first it appears charmingly naive, the dark side of human nature is ever present with corruption, domestic violence, theft and vandalism rearing their ugly heads to bring a touch of reality to the stories.
The author began bringing his family to Quinta de Saudade years ago and fell in love with the Algarve’s natural attributes, food and drink. We usually read a lot about any country we visit
to get in touch with its people and culture. Over the years he created short stories to help his children get to grips with their surroundings and some were published in the UK. He decided to pull together some of the stories sharing the same characters into an adult novel which was published early this year. Writing There is a Tide involved much research into the folklore, poetry and literature of Portugal and many readers have reported that it increased their knowledge and enjoyment of Portugal. AM Afifi will be signing copies of his book on Saturday, 26th September on the Griffin Bookshop stand at the Better Living in Portugal exhibition in Portimão.