Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: One Summer in Venice

Title:  One Summer in Venice

Author: Nicky Pelligrino
Publisher: 14th April 2015 by Hachette Australia - Orion
Pages: 304 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: womens fiction, chick lit
My Rating:  three cups

'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?

My thoughts:

“Am I missing out? Is there another life I ought to be leading?....I wasn’t sure I like who I’d become. Still, I was getting through the days and weeks all right; I was managing”.

I was looking forward to reading about this purported middle-aged heroine taking what could be described as a sabbatical to Venice. Maybe another type of, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ would be forthcoming. Whilst it contained some interesting components, there was nothing really new or enlightening, no real fresh insights to deliver. I did not feel a great deal of empathy for Dolly either (the main character) as she did come off at times as being quite selfish. The draw card is Coco - she is the real story here - such an enigma, charismatic is her middle name and the way her story slowly unfolded was entertaining.

“Do the things that make you happy.
What if I don’t know what they are?
Then I think you really do have a problem”.

I have to give the book credit for the setting. Venice is lavishly described so well, that many a time you could picture yourself walking the narrow pathways. I also have to give the book points for its sumptuous food descriptions – rich like the foods being lovingly prepared. The final interesting aspect is the inclusion of the dance, the tango. Whether professionals or learners, everything from the steps to the interpretation were vividly described.

“I’ve decided my life is just like the tango now. I won’t force it along; I need to let it happen naturally, stay in the moment, stay with the feeling, live with my heart not my head. I’m getting better at it”.

But back to Dolly. There were pearls of wisdom that were sprinkled throughout as she soaked up Venice – the lifestyle, culture and cuisine.  Her objective was to discover what made her happy – really happy.

“What do I want from my life? I want to be happier. Don’t you?...All of us deserve some. But how many days and weeks had I let slip by in a fug of greyness and dejection? How often even did I notice whether I was happy or not?”

So she makes new friends, takes afternoon naps, tries new styles of dressing, discovers the local attractions and learns to cook again for the love of it. Slowly she begins to unwind and formulate the list of things that make her happy. At the conclusion, her lesson is to attempt to live her life differently, ensuring time for the rediscovery of the things that make her smile. Idealistic? Maybe, however, as she learnt from Coco:

“I can’t change the past and undo my mistakes. All I can do is get on with life. Keep going and keep trying. It’s all any of us can do”.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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