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The House That Alice Built

Published Date: August 17, 2019

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Available as an eBook & audio download


Winner of the Search for a Star competition!

200 pages


Home is where the heart is …

Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating.

But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents.

But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home.

Book 1 – Portuguese Paradise. Followed by New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun

Available as an eBook and audiobook on all platforms. 

Chris Penhall

Chris is a freelance writer and radio producer.
Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it.  She is now working on her second.
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
Chris has two grown-up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside.
Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

The House That Alice Built is Chris’s debut novel.


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FREE Audio Story

Listen to a fabulous, heart-warming FREE short story from Chris Penhall.

Sunset by Chris Penhall narrated by Penelope Freeman. Click the play button to listen.

Reviews (5)


  1. Ruth
    Ruth August 20, 2019 at 9:08 am .

    Total escapism for the reader.

    An uplifting tale about Alice finding her true self after being a wage slave for years. Extremely well written, this captures the delightful atmosphere of Portugal, the sunshine, blue skies, golden sands and friendly locals.
    Alice soon immerses herself in Portuguese life, making new friends and discovering a way to slow down and smell the lavender.

    There should to be a warning on the book cover: reading this will seriously encourage the user to change their way of life.

  2. Gill Leivers
    Gill Leivers August 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm .

    I did enjoy this book – my idea of a traditional, clean romance, with a lovely happy ending. I believe it proves that it is completely unnecessary to ‘pad’ out a story by describing any sexual act in minute detail – I am happy to close the bedroom door as they kiss…. Alice is at an unhappy place in her life, so she goes to Portugal to visit her friend, Kathy. Here she meets several very nice men, including Luis. I found myself reading more quickly to get to the happy end – I didn’t want to put it down for minor activities like sleeping and eating!

  3. Yvonne Greene
    Yvonne Greene August 20, 2019 at 6:34 pm .

    Great read from start to finish. Characters you feel connected with in a luscious setting – put your feet up and enjoy! Great first novel from this author!

  4. Barbara p
    Barbara p August 26, 2019 at 9:02 pm .

    This is a lovely romance, set mainly in Portugal. The story starts in uk buts moves overseas when Alice is made redundant. Her back story has shaped her but the move and her new and old friends help her to move on and the old Alice gradually reappears. Her relationship with Luis is not an easy one as both have a lot of baggage. There is also the cultural and language difficulties to be dealt with. Portugal is well portrayed and the characters believable. I was rooting for Alice to see what her future could be, exciting and fun. Does she get there? Read this book to the very end to find out.

  5. MummySam
    MummySam December 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm .

    To imagine myself in Portugal always means it was a great book to read.

    I lost myself everytime I read a chapter or two or four.

    Alice has been trying desperately to get over a failed relationship but it doesn’t help with postcards keep dropping on her doorstep informing her of all the things her ex has been doing

    Until one day – she snaps and rips them all up and takes herself off to Tower Bridge to let them all go.

    This scene summed up many a feeling I have had.

    Her best friend Kathy moved to Portugal and has nagged Alice to go there for a holiday and during one emotional call to her best friend she makes a sudden decision to do just that- to go to Portugal (okay – there is also the factor that she has just been made redundant … which helped spur the decision to just get away from it – but who worries about those little factors 😁).

    She arrives at the airport to be met by a lovely chauffeur who takes her straight to Kathy’s. The two friends spend time reminiscing when she finds herself being offered an opportunity to house sit by a slightly eccentric and absolutely brilliant friend of Kathy’s called Mary.

    Mary has a knack of knowing what somebody needs (before they even realise) and leaves some very strange and mysterious concoctions of tea – which once drunk lead to some hillarious moments.

    Prior to Alice’s relationship with Adam, she used to enjoy photography, art and making jewellery.

    During one exploratory visit she bumps into Luis who also has a passion for photography. They find themselves often bumping into each other but it seems everyone is warning Alice off.

    The story unfolds in a funny, sometimes tense and unexpected way. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would love to have the opportunity to go to Cascais to see the beautiful scenery for myself one day.

    I could relate to so much of this book – well the break up / house owning / insecurity side of things.

    You never know … I might find the man of my dreams unexpectedly one day …. here’s hoping x

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