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I finished reading this book last night,and I'm still not sure what my overall opinion of it is.I only picked it up from the library because I am a big fan of Domenica de Rosa's other books (being part Italian,I find there's always something in the stories that I can relate to),but reading the blurb of this one,I was pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it as much.
Emily Robertson has written a newspaper column about life in Tuscany since she moved there with her family 2 years ago,to her "dream house" in the countryside.The column is full of stereotypes of sunsets and great food...the usual things people associate with Italy.From the start this made me dislike the character,as did many other things throughout the book.Anyway,the fairytale lifestyle doesn't last,of course,and Emily is faced with running the household on her own,finding a new job,looking after an anorexic daughter (who by the way is one of the only likeable characters in the book in my opinion).
Much is made of Emily's obsession almost with her first boyfriend,an Italian who sparked her love for the country and its culture.For me this was the most interesting part of the book,an interesting twist on how you never forget your first love,even though circumstances dictate that you really should.It all made Emily a bit more human to me,or at least,I could relate to this much more than I could relate to her relationship with her kids (particularly the youngest,who she spoils rotten),and her relationship with the archaeologist Rafaello.
As always with de Rosa's books,there's a bit of Italian history thrown in,which as well as being very interesting,is very important to the story.The ending however left a lot to be desired for me.It's certainly not what you expect to happen,but I just felt a little bit disappointed.
This is a heartfelt, witty story of one woman's journey from heartbreak to adventure, full of gorgeous Italian flavour. Emily Robertson looks like the woman who has it all: the lovingly restored Tuscan farmhouse, the three beautiful children, the successful, attentive husband. But when her husband dumps her by text message, she has to face up to some stark home truths. How will Emily cope, stranded in the countryside with no man, no money, dodgy phrasebook Italian and a psychotic cleaner? Her eldest girl is out of her depth with the local seducer, her middle daughter is dangerously underweight, and her darling baby is fast becoming a brat. But soon Emily finds herself being drawn into the village of Monte Albano, and discovering a more genuine Italy, darker and more intriguing than she had ever imagined. She and her children are outsiders no more - and if she can get over a slightly embarrasing obsession with her youthful first love, a rogueish stranger might be about to show her the time of her life...