Canary Island Song

Canary Island Song

by Robin Jones Gunn


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When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.
The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.
Is it too late for Carolyn to trust Bryan? Can Carolyn believe that Bryan has turned into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago on a balmy Canary night?
Carolyn is reminded that Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492 on his voyage to discover the New World. Is she ready to set sail from these same islands to discover her new life?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416583417
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,024,373
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Robin Jones Gunn is the much-loved author of seventy titles that have sold more than four million copies worldwide. Her popular Christy Miller series and Sisterchicks® novels have won a number of awards, including three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction, and a Gold Medallion Award finalist award. Robin's unique destination novels transport readers around the globe. To ensure that her tales of these extraordinary locations ring true, Robin has enjoyed the privilege of traveling to each location in order to experience the local culture. Her three visits to the Canary Islands provided bountiful research as she took flamenco dance lessons, rode a camel, and visited the chapel where Columbus prayed before departing on his famous journey. Robin and her husband have two grown children and live in Hawaii.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Canary Island Song includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Robin Jones Gunn. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
For Discussion

1. In the first chapter, Tikki tells Carolyn that she needs to get her own life. In what ways has Carolyn given up her life? How has each of these been resolved by the end of the story?

2. How does Carolyn’s experience with Ellis affect her budding relationship with Bryan Spencer? How does emotional baggage affect your relationships? Read these verses and reflect: 1 Peter 5:7 and Romans 8:28.

3. What does Bryan’s reaction to his stepsister’s issues show about his character? What specifically has changed from the time he was a teenager?

4. Mother-daughter relationships are prominent in this story. What are the areas of strength in the relationships? What could the mothers and daughters work on to improve the relationships? Do you see any of these areas of strength or weakness in your mother-daughter relationships?

5. When Carolyn pampers herself with a manicure and pedicure she’s congratulated for treating herself well. If congratulating others for showing themselves kindness was a customary practice everywhere, how do you think our lives would be affected?

6. How does the adage “Live by the living and not by the dead” relate to Bryan’s life? How does it tie into Carolyn’s life? For Bryan, read Romans 6:4. For Carolyn, read Lamentations 3:31–33.

7. When Carolyn is learning flamenco, she tosses away a “bad apple” of anger from her life. This freed her to reconnect with God. Is there a poison in your life that God would have you toss away so that you can draw closer to him?

8. How do you think Tikki’s trip to the Canary Islands affected this new step in her relationship with Matthew?

A Conversation with Robin Gunn

You chose a specific scripture quotation from Deuteronomy 4:9 to open your novel. What is it about this verse that caused you to select it for Canary Island Song?

I love the direction given in Deuteronomy for us to teach to our children what we have seen and heard in our lifetime. That’s what happens between these three generations of women. Opening up our hearts and being truthful to the closest women in our lives allows space for healing to begin. That open, healed space provides room for love to grow. This is what happened to Carolyn when she finally told her mother the truth.

In the “From the Author’s Notes,” you mention that you’ve made three trips to the Canary Islands. Other than these trips, did you do much research on the Canary Islands and their culture while writing this book?

Yes. It’s amazing what you can find on the internet! I also skimmed several travel books about the Canary Islands and while I was there I bought books in English about Christopher Columbus and one with local recipes. I think that’s why food became such a big part of this story, because I had all the pictures and recipes to keep reminding me of the fabulous meals I enjoyed on each of my visits.

You also mention in “From the Author’s Notes” that you and your friend Anne were both working on book projects while you were in the Canary Islands. Do you find the experience of writing in the company of a good friend to be different from writing alone? Which do you prefer?

I’d have to quote Winnie the Pooh on this one and say, “It’s so much friendlier with two.” Different books require different levels of concentration. I’ve been writing for so many years that to have the opportunity to be around a true Sisterchick while creating a new story was an exquisite treat. My favorite part of the process was when we would gather in the evening after a day of moving words around and fulfilling way for a writer to pull the curtain on that corner of the imagination than to simply turn off the computer and go to bed.

Where did you learn of the custom among the women of the Canaries to congratulate their sister when she “shows herself a kindness”? Were you ever congratulated for showing yourself a kindness on your trips to the islands?

This scene in the book is just about exactly what happened to Anne and me. We were on our way to the grocery store and decided to step inside a salon. We both had manicures and when we left the two young women in the salon “congratulated” us for showing ourselves a kindness. We loved the way that made us feel! For the rest of our visit we continued to show ourselves simple kindnesses and got in the habit of congratulating each other. It was amazing to meet so many women in the Canary Islands who all seemed to look out for us and for one another in this way.

Strong mother-daughter relationships are featured prominently in this novel. Why did you choose to explore these types of relationships? What about them is so important to you? Do you have a daughter? If so, were you influenced by your own relationship or experiences as a mother?

My daughter is twenty-five years old. She is an amazing, strong woman and she and I are very close. Over the past few years our conversations have deepened in many ways. I’m sure our relationship influenced me a lot as I was writing, even though I didn’t intentionally set out to write a generational story. As a matter of fact, in the original draft of the first few chapters I don’t think Tikki existed. Once I got into the story I realized Carolyn needed to have a daughter in her twenties and because of my daughter I had lots of relational ideas to draw from. My mother and my daughter both live more than twenty-five hundred miles away. I dearly value our visits.

Is there a particular character in Canary Island Song to whom you feel the most connected? If so, which character and why?

This might sound funny but the first character that came to mind when I read this question was Abuela Teresa. I think I feel connected to her because she reminds me of my grandmother who passed away seven years ago. My grandmother lived in Louisiana and always delighted in visits from our family. Those visits were infrequent because we all lived on the West Coast. My sister and I made several trips to see her together and we have great memories of those times. Now that I live on an island I feel the vast space of all those miles and I really treasure visits from my family.

Even though Carolyn’s mom has no experience with dance, she is still excited to take flamenco lessons. You wrote the dance section with such vivid detail. Did you take lessons while you were in the Canary Islands?

Yes! As I mentioned in the photo section, Anne’s friend set up a series of lessons for us. The experience was powerful and emotional because neither Anne nor I have ever felt coordinated at such things. But we tried and we learned and our instructor infused us with the thought that we were strong women and should carry ourselves in a way that demonstrated that strength. We took only three lessons and we know that it takes years to truly learn to dance flamenco. Just having a tiny taste of that world was a wonderful experience. On one of our last nights on the islands we went to see a world-class flamenco group from Madrid. The performance was astounding. You could feel the explosive power of the dance with each stomp and click of the heels. Amazing!

As you were writing this novel, was there ever any doubt in your mind that Carolyn and Bryan would end up together? How about Tikki and Matthew?

This was one of those stories when I knew how it was going to end before I knew how it was going to begin. At least I partly knew. I knew Carolyn was going to end up with Bryan because Bryan has been a character from the Christy Miller series that has stayed in my thoughts for years. I always wondered why he never remarried. It intrigued me to know Bryan’s background and how he got to be where he is now. I knew I wanted to write about him in order to let my imagination tell me Bryan’s story. I didn’t know Tikki and Matthew would end up together. Those two surprised me. I do think they are a terrific match, though. Matthew is another one of the Forever Friends in the Christy Miller books and I did want him to end up with someone extra special. I’m glad it was Tikki.

On your website (, you mention that you had not originally planned on becoming an author. What first inspired you to begin writing?

The inspiration came from a group of young teens who were reading a bunch of books on a church camping trip. I read a few of the books they’d brought with them and was concerned about the content of what they were putting into their thirteen-year-old hearts. I encouraged them to read books more suited for their age and they challenged me and said I should write a book for them. As a matter of fact, they’d help by telling me what to write. And they did. It took two years to finish the first Christy Miller book and I wanted to give up after the first ten rejection letters from publishers. But those girls kept pressing me onward and once that first book was accepted for publication we had a big party to celebrate. That was in 1988 and I haven’t stopped writing.

More specifically, what was your inspiration for writing Canary Island Song?

My inspiration was similar to what prompted me to write Under a Maui Moon. I wanted to write about a woman in midlife who needed to get her heart back. The older I get the more women I meet who have been through really difficult life situations. I’ve watched many of them curl up and let their lives become small. It’s tragic, really, because as long as they are alive there is life to be lived and daily adventures to experience.

In writing this story I wanted to explore what might happen with an average woman who is dealt a blow but finds that God is drawing her out of hiding and into a new, restorative season of life. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be around a woman who has been through a terrible battle and managed to come out of it scarred but undefeated. She is strong and confident and exudes an unmistakable sense of joy as if she and Jesus have a secret. That sort of beauty is irresistible to those who are in the midst of the battle. We all need that picture of hope. That’s been my prayer as I was writing this book—that the women who read this book might find the courage to ask God to give them their heart back. He still has dreams for you, you know. As Aunt Frieda would say, “A donde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina.” To where the heart is inclined the feet will follow.

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Canary Island Song 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
WriterAshley More than 1 year ago
For fans of Robin Jones Gunn, as well as those who haven't had the pleasure of reading her books before, Canary Island Song is a must-read. I joke that Christy Miller was one of the best friends I had in high school, and the funny party is, I'm only half-joking. If you're like me and you love the Christy books, you are sure to appreciate the hero's connection to Todd, as well as the novel's brief mention of this couple. In some ways, Canary Island is sort of like an adult Christy Miller book: the whimsical beauty of love with some of life's hardships mixed in. Carolyn is a young widow whose heart yearns for love but still feels the pain of her sudden loss. Bryan is a single father who's family drama brings him back to the Canary Islands. Together, these two rekindle a past worth remembering. Something magical happens between the sentences of a Robin Jones Gunn book, and this novel is no exception. I can't explain it. All I can say is that Robin has an amazing ability to make the reader empathize with the characters, and to transport the reader into the vibrancy of different locations. In this case, that location is full of sort breezes, camel rides, flamenco dance lessons, and adventure. Also, Robin does a nice job weaving historical details into the story so that fans of historicals will still be satisfied with this contemporary story. There is strong and well-developed family thread that was probably my favorite aspect of the book. Grandmother, mother, and daughter all come together in this tropical setting to find their dreams and their strength, but most importantly, to find it together. To respond to the other reviewer who had problems with the spiritual content of the book, this book is classified as Christian fiction. I find it problematic to hold the genre against a book whenever that genre is clearly indicated--for instance, if I walk into the sci-fi section, I'm not going to blame those books for fitting a genre I don't personally like. Secondly, Robin's inspirational themes are not, in my opinion, preachy at all. I suppose that is a personal decision, and I regret this other reviewer did not get a chance to finish the book because it is a great story. All in all, another A+ from Robin. You know a book is good when you come away from it wishing you could meet the characters, and that certainly holds true here.
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
Robin Jones Gunn is well known for her YA books and her SisterChicks books. Here we have a book that reminds me a little of the SisterChicks books except instead of best friends we have Carolyn who is at a crossroads in her life, her mother who lives in the Canary Islands and her daughter who just can't get her boyfriend to commit. These 3 generations all learn a lot about each other and themselves when they take a little time to discover what's important. I loved the setting of this book and the characters were so vibrant and different. The message that you are never too old or young to find yourself and that God has a plan in everything was so clear. What a good book, especially if you enjoyed her SisterChicks books!
BronteCO More than 1 year ago
I have long been a fan of Robin Jones Gunn. Her characters are real to life and her stories speak strongly of God's redemption. Canary Island Song is no different. I immediately identified with the main character, Carolyn, and walked along side her as she struggled to get past her grief and find her heart once again. Her adventure with her daughter, mother and aunts reminded me of Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks series: full of laughter and unexpected twists! This was definitely a book I'd come back to and read once again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorites outside of the sisterchick books!
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Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Often times we have to accept our lot in life. Whatever choices we have made along the way are personalized just for us. When life dealt Carolyn a tough hand, she dealt with it the best way she could. She coped on the outside, put on a smile when need be, and avoided the subject of her husband, Jeff's death. Even after so many years the grief remained buried deep inside. As long as no one mentioned it, she could ignore it. Yet, life was passing her by! Her twin sister, Marilyn is already married and she is moving on and finally out of her house. Now alone, she takes the advice of her sister and daughter, Tikki, that she needs to get out there again. Meet some one. Fall in love again! With the approach of her mom's 70th birthday, she plans a surprise for her and returns to the Canary Islands. She is ready to begin a new start, but what she didn't expect was to meet up again with the man who captured her heart at 18 and broke it. Will she be ready to start a new life or will her past reclaim her and hold her heart captive again? I received Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn, compliments of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and have to give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. We all have had our fair shares of heart breaks in our life, but rarely do we get the opportunity to possibly rekindle that old flame. This is a novel about romance but also about dealing with grief and the ability to move forward even though our hearts and emotions will sometimes hold us back. Filled with so much love and hope, this novel is a great summer book that will take you to the most unexpected places.
harstan More than 1 year ago
she has taken care of her sister and her nieces. Now with her aunt married and worried about her mom, twentyish Tikki lectures Carolyn to take care of her gracious self. Heeding her daughter's advice, Carolyn decides to leave San Francisco to surprise her mother Abuela Teresa on her seventieth birthday with a visit to see her in the Canary Islands. It has been years since Carolyn has set foot in the Canary Islands. Once there after a warm welcome by her mom, she meets her one time summer fling from high school Brian Spencer. Still attracted to him, she wonders if he ever outgrew his beach bum lifestyle and at her age she also ponders if not whether that is such a bad thing anyway. This entertaining islands romance (see Maui Moon) is owned by Carolyn who comes home to rejuvenate her life. The support cast including the Canary Islands enhance the theme of grief may be customized to the individual, but loved ones must be there to help the anguished one remember never wait for tomorrow what you can do today. Although the story line is thin following an expected route, readers will enjoy visiting the Canary Islands guided by Carolyn, Brian and Abuela. Harriet Klausner
Suholo More than 1 year ago
I don't like series books I have always bypassed books by this author. I thought this was a stand-alone .... silly me! I did enjoy the book for the most part the plot was original and intriquing. However, it was much mroe of a travel diary with FAR FAR too much details about umimportant things and NOT NEARLY enough romantic details. In face that element was pretty hum drum. I don't want steamy but I DO want romance. I also read up Love Finds You at Sunset Beach also thinking it was a stand alone,only to find out it was also part of a series and that there is yet another. While I understand the benefit a series can be for teenage girls apparently that IS this author's only identity. Sad that she can't branch out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unless they changed it, the lastnreview for this book said it was for under Maui Moon, thatbis incorrect, as thatbwomans husband didnt die, nor did she stay at her moms plce, I think it was her bosses place and she goes there as she lost her job and wss havingnussues with her hubby.
ladybug766 More than 1 year ago
The synopsis given for this book is really the synopsis for Under the Maui Moon. I can't wait to find out the synopsis for this story but the one given is not it.
Ragingsenior More than 1 year ago
I really don't like being manipulated about religion. I stopped this book before competing it. Too bad I can't get my money back. It is just a way to fill the pages with the author's religious belief. That is not a story but a filler.