An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake
Publishing Date: 26th July 2018
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction
A compelling novel about friendship, family secrets and second chances, set against the backdrop of southern Italy.
Sandy is in her fifties, and at a crossroads in her life: she’s a teacher and respected by her pupils, but she feels she is being sidelined in favour of younger colleagues. So when her mother dies, leaving her a sealed envelope addressed to an unknown woman living in Naples, Sandy decides to head to Italy to resolve the mystery by delivering the letter herself.
She books herself on to a small sightseeing trip from Rome to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, hoping to meet some like-minded people along the way. Who is the mysterious woman she is searching for? And will Sandy find friendship, or even love, along the way…?
When Sandy’s mother dies, she leaves her daughter a letter addressed to Anna in Naples, asking Sandy to find her. Sandy wants to fulfil her mother’s last wish and sets off on a group – holiday in Italy. She doesn’t know who’s going to be in her group but never in her life does she expect with this particular guest…Travelling in Rome and Naples, she makes friends and enemies with her fellow travellers. Through her mother’s journal we get to know Sandy’s mother story which is really captivating. Will Sandy be able to find Anna? And if so, is it going to open a Pandora Box…?
In this book the author takes us on a journey to Rome and Naples. It is crystal clear that she has done her research – the descriptions of the places, listed buildings, relics, bars and piazzas are so incredibly detailed that it wouldn’t be impossible to write about them in such way without seeing them with your own eyes. While I truly appreciated that Fanny Blake wanted to bring the beauty of the places to us, I must admit that I started to skim reading through the descriptions as they were simply too long and I just longed to eventually get to the point, to have the plot and the main story back. Because the idea of this story was intriguing, it’s the development that was a problem – at least, my problem.
There were also many characters introduced to us in this book, and while I didn’t have problems with sorting them, with immediately seeing who belongs to whom, I spent most of the reading time wondering if they’re really so significant to the plot. However, what was really great to observe, was the brilliantly captured group dynamics, the interactions between adult people, the way they were coping. It was just like in real life, where a group of people meet the secrets, lies and small plays are pre – programmed, and the author has really an eye for such things. It was sharp observed and rang a bell, was true to life and realistic and I really enjoyed this part of the story. Please don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to learn about their experiences, to see Italy through their so very different eyes, but I only wanted to read more about the main idea. However, Fanny Blake can for sure create some truly interesting and complex characters, they all had their problems, they all had some skeletons in the cupboards and they were all truly well developed. They were not all likeable, oh no, just like it is with a group of people, and while Sandy could have had more backbone for my liking, she was a great leading character. She was strong and independent and life experienced. Some of the others I mostly wanted to slap, to be honest, or to bang their heads together, their actions were sometimes so childish but again – this is the way people behave and hats off to Fanny Blake for being able to bring her observations so easily and effortlessly to the pages.
I was missing some more twists and turns – I mean, there were many of them but there was a space for two or three really big ones, such that you didn’t see coming. It took so much time to reach the conclusion and, to be honest, I guessed the outcome, so some bumps on the way would be a great idea.
“An Italian Summer” was full of secrets, lies and rivalry novel, filled with sunshine and lovely Italian food and captivating storytelling. It was a warm story, bringing friendship and family to us. It was complex and clever and the mystery was truly interesting and I only wanted to turn the pages to see how it’s going to end – all of the subplots. It’s a great summer read, even if you’re not travelling to Italy, though with all the descriptions it’ll be for sure a bonus! Recommended!
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