Published 5 June 2014 by Pan McMillan
If journalist Anna had to write up the story of her own life, it wouldn’t make for a great headline: Dull Journo Has Dull Boyfriend! The only mystery in Anna’s life is that she’s never known who her dad is but with her mum refusing to tell her more she’s at a dead end. When she accidentally comes across a clue that her father is Italian, it opens up a burning curiosity in Anna. Soon she’s cooking Italian food, signing up for an Italian class and even considering dusting off her passport to go and find her dad in person… Sophie is serving gelato to tourists in Italy when she gets the call that her father has had a serious heart attack. In a rush, she grabs her well-worn backpack and heads back to the one place she’s been avoiding for so long – home. Living with her mum again while her dad recuperates, and taking a job teaching Italian to make ends meet, Sophie has to face up to the secrets she’s kept buried in the past. Catherine has no idea what the future holds. Her children have left for university, her husband has left her for another woman and her bank account is left empty after dedicating her life to raising her family. She needs a job and an identity all of a sudden. At an Italian evening class she makes a start in finding new friends Anna and Sophie. And she’s going to need good friends when she discovers her husband’s lies run even deeper than his infidelity… As Anna embarks on the trip to Italy that could answer all of her questions, will the truth live up to her dreams?
I’ve enjoyed Lucy’s previous books and was really looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed – it was a lovely story about three very different women and their route to a happier life; also I love anything Italian (even though the story was primarily set in Sheffield!) so this was a double win for me.
When three women meet as strangers at an Italian language evening class, they would have no idea how much their lives would change. We have Anna, a journalist (with a despicable boyfriend and his spreadsheets!). Anna has never known her father but has just discovered his first name and that he is Italian. She has hopes of going to Italy to try and find him but wants to learn some of the language first. Then there is Catherine; she has been treated so badly by her awful husband and not only needs a job but a boost to her confidence. Finally there is Sophie; she has a fractured relationship with her parents and had fled abroad to live a nomadic lifestyle but upon hearing her father was ill, returned home although she then had no idea what to do with her life. By chance, she ended up teaching an Italian evening class at a local college. There are other characters from the class who feature in a meaningful way throughout the story – from bossy Geraldine and her adoring husband Roy to sparky hairdresser Phoebe and their friendship and support made a great addition to the story.
Each character has their own story to tell and the threads were neatly interwoven. Often, there is one character that I engage with more than others but here I felt empathy with all three – they were all so believable and I was rooting for all of them to live their dreams. Of course nothing runs smoothly and all three women have problems to contend with before they can start to move on with their lives.
There was so much in this book to love – humour, romance, heartache and of course scrumptious Italian food. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next book!
My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the digital copy to review