This book is: a love story with several different love stories happening around it.
Other elements: old Hollywood glamor, scenic Italian coastlines, curses, Richard Burton.
Read it: if you’re in a romantic mood (or a bubble bath. I read most of this in a bubble bath.).
Overall rating: 7.75/10
An isolated Italian village; a provincial, idealistic young businessman; a stunning American actress with a dark secret, an ex-soldier turned aspiring writer/drunk…are you getting a feel for this story already? This novel is set party in the past and partly in the present (and several times in between). It’s similar to the genre of movie that came into existence after the success of Love, Actually – it follows several plot lines which turn out to be interwoven. The plot lines in this book are not all equal, however. There’s a definite hero and heroine who are the center of the action.
After the funeral, he begged his elderly mother to return to Florence, but the very idea scandalized her. “What kind of wife would I be if I left your father simply because he is dead?” – Page 4
It’s not innovative or life-changing, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. I mean…romance, intrigue, and surprise appearances by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor? Sign me up.
Bender pondered the wine in his hand. “A writer needs four things to achieve greatness, Pasquale: desire, disappointment, and the sea.”
“That’s only three.”
Alvis finished his wine. “You have to do disappointment twice.” – Page 62
I could see myself rereading this mood again if I was in the mood for something exactly like this book. It really is the prefect book to read in the bubble bath – it’s warm, simple, it makes you feel good, it’s pretty to look at, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. The writing is pleasantly engaging and easy to read, and the characters are vibrant and interesting.
He had a gone-to-seed superhero look, with blocky, side-parted hair and a square jaw, and an athletic body just starting to swell with middle age. Men have a half-life, she thought, like uranium. – Page 208
The only part I actively disliked was near the end, when the author interrupts a dramatic moment to give a summary of dramatic things that happened to all of the peripheral characters – I was irritated to be taken away from the scene at hand, which I had been really enjoying, and the recap felt rushed and cheesy. It also went on way too long. I was interested to hear what had happened to the other characters, especially the ones I’d particularly liked, but I didn’t want to hear it in what was effectively a pages-long list. That part took a lot of the momentum out of the ending for me. From there on out, it felt like I was reading a summary of the end of the book rather than the actual end of the book.
It’s still worth reading, though, especially if the summary sounds fun to you. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone with an affection for grand romance and the glamor of the golden age of Hollywood.