Welcome to Glorious Tuga

Francesca Segal's cozy third novel, Welcome to Glorious Tuga, is set on a fictional South Atlantic island, and reflects on belonging through a conservationist's search for her father. Tuga de Ora is a British overseas territory with a mixed heritage resulting from the island's early settlement: Sephardic Jews, British and Dutch sailors, enslaved Nigerians, and Eastern European refugees. Cross this with the tropical lassitude of jungle, beaches, bougainvillea, and extreme heat, and Tuga is truly one-of-a-kind.

Charlotte Walker, a 29-year-old herpetologist, has been granted a year-long fellowship to study endangered Tugan gold coin tortoises. But she also is grasping onto the slimmest hope of finding her father there. On the boat to Tuga, the seasick Charlotte meets Dan Zekri, who's returning after 15 years in London to take over as the island's chief medical officer.

Charlotte may be FFA ("Folk From Away"), but most are quick to make her feel at home. Besides tortoise tracking, she puts her veterinary training to use by lambing and treating pets--but also finds herself delivering a eulogy for a piglet and rescuing library manuscripts from a silverfish infestation. Islanders are almost more suspicious of Dan, resisting his health initiatives such as a "Couch to 5K" program. Sparks fly between these two, but several things hinder a fling--not least the arrival of Dan's physiotherapist fiancée, Katie.

Segal (The Awkward Age) lovingly develops her quirky ensemble cast. Everyone knows each other in this small community, and the character interactions here are delightful. This gently tragicomic book is the first in a trilogy, so readers can look forward to more Tugan adventure and romance. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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