This is part of my Summer Reads series where I’ll be reviewing a series of “not just cookbooks”.
You might recognise Frances Mayes as the author of the bestselling book (and later film), Under the Tuscan Sun. Her latest novel is the perfect Summer Read because it combines delicious food, travel and a genuine “feel good” story – an excellent combination when it comes to summer reading.
From the publisher:
She watches from her terrazza as the three American women carry their luggage into the stone villa down the hill. Who are they, and what brings them to this Tuscan village so far from home? An expat herself and with her own unfinished story, she can’t help but question: will they find what they came for?
Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany, is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women—Julia, Camille, and Susan—all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives. Susan, the most adventurous of the three, has enticed them to subvert expectations of staid retirement by taking a lease on a big, beautiful house in Tuscany. Though novices in a foreign culture, their renewed sense of adventure imbues each of them with a bright sense of bravery, a gusto for life, and a fierce determination to thrive. But how? With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten—and with drastic and unforeseeable results.
Whilst this is a delightful read, there are a lot of stories going on within the book – Julia, Susan and Camille’s own stories that they bring to Italy with them after they meet at a retirement home open house (hey, doesn’t running away to Italy for a year – or more – sound so much better than assisted living?) as well as Kit and Colin (and the topic of Kit’s biography) and at times the stories are happening simultaneously which can make this a little hard to follow (i.e. keep up with all the different characters that are introduced). It’s definitely a “read in one or two sittings” book though so the more you read the more familiar you become and you won’t want to put the book down until you’ve finished. It was the perfect read for the recent hottest day on record in Southwest France last week where the heat made it impossible to leave the cool of my basement apartment. I read this in a day!
The book will be appealing to so many people: anyone who has dreamt of running off to Italy, anyone who loves Italian food or art, anyone who loved to travel, anyone who’s dreamed of a different life. It’s definitely a “happily ever after” kind of book (spoiler: the women end up buying the house they rent and staying in Italy) and might seem unrealistic but it really is a wonderful book to escape with. I personally loved watching each of the women “reborn” as they took on retirement in Italy with much gusto and joie de vivre. I can’t imagine moving to Italy in your 60s with no Italian and no real knowledge of the culture would be as seamless as this but it makes for a delightful read.
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. I have not been compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.
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