Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: General Fiction, Italian Lit
Published: September 2004
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Back of the Book Blurb:
In this delightful, moving debut novel, Peter Pezzelli brings to life the earthy sensuality of Tuscany—the smell of just-baked bread wafting through the village piazza; the shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalks under the warm, early morning sun; groups of cyclists dotting the mountain roads—and spins a story of May-December romance as sharp and delicious as the olives of Villa San Giuseppe…
After the death of his beloved wife, Anna, Peppi’s family and friends expect him to bury his grief by tending to his gardens and taking long rides on his bike. Instead, Peppi shocks them all with his decision to return to Villa San Giuseppe, the small Italian village where he spent his childhood, and to il mulino, his family’s old mill. But once he’s back, he temporarily moves into an apartment over the candy factory run by his childhood best friend, Luca. It is modest, but livable, with a lovely view of Luca’s neglected gardens and his equally neglected daughter, the fiery Lucrezia.
More a force of nature than a woman, Lucrezia’s legendary temper and workaholic schedule hide the very real pain she feels over her husband’s death years before. At first, she tolerates Peppi as an eccentric annoyance—her father’s strange but handsome American friend who fixes things around the factory and is bringing the gardens back to life. But soon, Lucrezia’s interest in Peppi deepens. Like a high wind, the gossip is flying through Villa San Giuseppe—Lucrezia’s making it to dinner on time. She’s eating olives from a man’s hand. She’s wearing heels. Now, under the warm Tuscan sun, a tentative romance begins to bloom between the grieving pair, yielding to a surprisingly strong passion with the power to heal life’s wounds and promise second chances…
After the initial couple of chapters, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was afraid at first that it was going to be a struggle to enjoy the story due to some herky-jerky prose in the beginning, but once I got past the first couple of chapters, Pezzelli found his stride and the book sort of took off from there. It’s a sweet, well-rounded story that is easy to relate to, and it is an easy, enjoyable read. I am not a romance reader by habit or choice, so this is exactly the kind of light reading that suits me. It is not a romance per se, but a good story of loss & friendship that is (somewhat predictably) built around a new May-December romance.
Perhaps I liked it even more than I might have otherwise due to the setting…I mean, it’s hard to dislike as picturesque (and lovestruck) a setting as a small town in Italy. However, I would venture a guess that Pezzelli has found his niche, and will prove to be an author in the vein of Maeve Binchy, Monica McInerney, and others…authors whose stories are appealing for both their exotic (to some) settings and their universally understood personal dynamics.