Jo Lovett opens up about the setting for her new novel Just Friends, the small Greek island of Antiparos
Jo Lovett opens up about the setting for her new novel Just Friends, the small Greek island of Antiparos

My new book, Just Friends, is set on the small Greek island of Antiparos, in the Cyclades. I was lucky enough to visit the island a few years ago, and absolutely loved it. It felt like the perfect setting for a summer wedding and an awkward reunion between two exes...

To celebrate the release of the novel, we asked author Jo Lovett to tell us all about the stunning setting featured. Here's what she had to reveal!

1. Antiparos is small… It’s less than seven miles long and three miles wide, and home to only about 1,200 permanent inhabitants. The ideal place to strand two exes so that they won’t be able to avoid bumping into each other…

2. But, it is perfectly formed. It’s gorgeous. Scenery, tick. Sandy beaches, tick. Beautiful white houses with blue doors, shutters and windows, covered in stunning bougainvillea and other brightly-coloured flowers, tick. And during the summer months, there’s lots going on but it never gets that crowded. It’s the perfect combination of beach-lounging and sightseeing, the kind of place where it would be difficult not to fall in love.

3. Its beaches are some of the best in Greece. They’re sandy (some of the Cycladic islands have stony beaches), there are a lot of them for such a small island, and there’s something for everyone, from family-friendly to remote ones favoured by naturists. You’ll have to read the book to find out what kind of beach activity my characters Lily and Matt prefer…

4. It’s a hidden gem with a celebrity following. Only people who really want to visit Antiparos end up there – the only public transport is ferry from neighbouring Paros, and Paros isn’t exactly an international transport hub – so it’s less touristy than many of the other Cycladic islands. It’s still been discovered and loved by celebs for hundreds of years, though, from nineteenth century English aristocrats (like the poet Lord Byron) to modern day Hollywood royalty (Tom Hanks has a house on the island). Lily and Matt aren’t obsessing about celeb sightings, though, they’re too busy trying to avoid each other.

5. There’s an amazing cave in the middle of the island. The Cave of Antiparos is one of the deepest caves in Europe, with awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites. It’s attracted all sorts of visitors, not just tourists, for thousands of years. It’s been lived in and used as a temple, and also widely vandalised. Are you an aristocrat on a Grand Tour or an occupying German or Russian solider – why not pocket a stalactite? Or a 4th century BC Macedonian general or Lord Byron – don’t leave without carving your name in the wall (Lily 4 Matt?)! Vandalism’s banned today – no sighting of any Tom Hanks graffiti – but the cave’s definitely worth a visit.

6. It had a troubled history but all is calm today. After centuries of struggles – the island formed part of the Venetian, Ottoman and Russian empires amongst others and the Venetians even built a castle there in the 1400s to protect against piracy – Antiparos became part of Greece in 1832 and things calmed down. Until Lily’s friend Tess arrives with her extreme bridezilla tendencies…

7. After a long hard day relaxing on the beach or sightseeing, there are plenty of opportunities to wind down with delicious cuisine and wine. If you love excellent restaurants centred around traditional Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, with an emphasis on delicious seafood, fish, meats, salads and cheese, you’ll love Antiparos. It’s basically the perfect holiday destination, and the perfect place for Lily and Matt to fall back in love…

Just Friends by Jo Lovett is out now
Just Friends by Jo Lovett is out now

About the Author

Jo Lovett lives in London with her family.

She worked in Corporate Tax before taking a longer-than-expected career break to have more-than-expected children (five). She started writing romantic comedy when she realised that she was regularly begging her oldest son to let her do his English homework but she wasn't actually that interested in haunted houses or Macbeth.

Jo was runner-up in the Good Housekeeping/ Orion First Novel Competition 2018 and shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Award 2019.

When she can escape from her laundry mountain and childcare, she enjoys reading, tennis and wine.

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