I really enjoyed Nicky Pellegrino’s The Food of Love Cookery School so I was excited to receive her newest novel, One Summer in Venice. The blurb ticks a few boxes for me – food and Italy, for starters. Have a read:
‘This isn’t a mid-life crisis OK? For a start I’m not old enough yet to have one of those. I’m calling it a happiness project. I’ve stolen an entire summer from my life and by the time it’s over I plan to leave this place with a list in my hand. The ten things that make me happy, that’s all I want to know. How difficult can it be? They may be small things – a perfect cup of coffee, a day without rain – or bigger ones. It’s still the beginning so how can I know?’
Addolorata Martinelli knows she should be happy. She has everything she thought she wanted – her own business, a husband, a child. So why does she feel as if something is missing? Then when her restaurant, Little Italy, is slated by a reviewer, she realises that she’s lost the one thing she thought she could always count on, her love of food. So Addolorata heads to Venice for a summer alone, aiming to find the ten things that make her happy. Once she’s found them, she’ll construct a new life around her ten things, but will they include her life in London?
One Summer in Venice is a light piece of contemporary fiction that deals with themes including friendship, life balance, choices and relationships. It’s a quick read that centres around the protagonist’s desire to redefine her life after a number of setbacks. There’s good character development as Addolorata (aka Dolly) has a good, hard look at herself, how she relates to the people in her life, and what she wants from the future. I found myself warming to Addolorata more as the novel went on and was glad she turned her setbacks into an experience of growth. The secondary stories revolving around her new circle of friends added warmth, and the descriptions of Venice from a less touristy viewpoint added flavour.
Overall, a good story with a happy ending, though it didn’t grab me as much as The Food of Love Cookery School.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Hachette Australia.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television