An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake
|An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Karen Grace|
|Summary: A perfectly pleasant story of friendships, family and new beginnings combined with an insightful travel guide to Rome and Naples where this book is set. Perfectly pleasant is the best way to describe this book though as it's enjoyable but unfortunately a bit of a slow burner.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: July 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Set against the backdrop of Rome and Naples, ten very different people meet on a small 'Taste of Italy' sightseeing trip. This is a story of family, friendships and relationships – my favourite. However, it was a departure from the usual formulaic chicklit I normally read focused on sassy independent female characters in their twenties or thirties. Here the characters are middle-aged with children in their twenties and rather than looking for love they are facing different life challenges of maintaining love, empty nest syndrome, and the loss of loved ones. Essentially it is a story of breaking out and new beginnings.
A family secret adds a welcome extra dimension, with Sandy's dying mother asking her to deliver a sealed letter she has addressed simply to Sra Anna Viglieri of Naples. Herein lies my main criticism of this book, however, as aside from a couple of entries from her mother's journal, you have to wait until roughly halfway through before there's any progress and Sandy finally reads the letter and starts trying to track Anna down. Which probably sums this book up too – a real slow-burner – the first half is basically all scene setting and filling with things only really getting going in the second half.
Although to be fair having just returned from Rome I actually quite enjoyed the 'filling' which is mostly delightful descriptions of the must-see tourist hotspots of Rome and Naples. I loved reading about the characters' day at the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Forum or Trevi Fountain. And, having never been or particularly wanted to go Pompeii, I'm now dying to see the place where history comes alive.
The main character is definitely Sandy, a widowed teacher coming to terms with the recent death of her estranged mother and the news that her daughter and wife are having a baby. However, some of the chapters are devoted to Alice, Sandy's travelling companion and new friend who is struggling with the demise of her twenty year marriage. Whilst this was slightly confusing and unusual to have a main character and an underling, it was more that I was disappointed that there were eight other holiday-makers, so if it wasn't just Sandy's story then it would have been nice to explore all the other characters too. Particularly as there were hints at the back stories behind their personalities, for example, overprotective Brit only fusses at home because of her husband Peter's recent health scare and dominant job, or strong-willed, flirtatious Lia who's actually just desperate for a baby.
Overall, I liked this book but it's more a pleasant enjoyable read rather than a page-turner that really captures your imagination. It's also a slow-burner but worth preserving with. Other women's fiction about a new beginnings are That Certain Age by Elizabeth Buchan or Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements.
You can read more book reviews or buy An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake at Amazon.com.
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