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Dolci di Love….fun read. It inspired me to prepare a few dishes (one of which I have not completed yet) but I wanted to get this review up.
Lily Turner, an executive vice president of a big company in New York , is digging around in her husband Daniel’s closet so she can ascertain the size of his golf shoes. It was meant to be a surprise for his birthday…new golf shoes. What she found turned her life upside down. Tucked away inside the shoe was a laminated photo of Daniel, his arm around a beautiful woman and two children snuggled close. The older child looks like Daniel. Upon closer inspection, Lily realizes the photo is taken in Italy …..a place Daniel spends one week a month dealing with his wine business.
Wham! How’s that for a shock? This realization that Daniel has a family tucked away in Tuscany comes as a scandalous surprise (naturally) but it’s a double whammy for Lily as she can not have children. Lily wanted to be a mother more than anything and with each false pregnancy, miscarriage and failed adoption……she retreats further away from the loving spontaneous life she had with Daniel. Is it any wonder he sought companionship elsewhere. Sought out a family with someone who would (and could) give it to him? Nooooo…. No excuses for Daniel and I wanted his head on a stick as I read through the first part of this book. What woman wouldn’t align herself with Lily and the outrage of such a betrayal? Cheating bastard!
Here’s the rub…….reading about Lily you definitely have sympathy for her yearning to be a mother. But there is a cool exterior surrounding this beautiful woman that didn’t allow me to totally connect with her. She had pushed her sister Rose away because she couldn’t bear to see Rose with her brood of children. So they don’t see each other much. Lily keeps her schedule at work jam packed and so, she doesn’t have spare moments to take trips with her husband or go out for a leisurely dinner. Her assistant buys Daniel his birthday and Christmas gifts……..Lily doesn’t know her husband’s show size. If she did, she wouldn’t have found out about the Italian family.
OK – next you get Daniel’s side of the story. Is he justified? Is he a total cad? No. He screwed up (no pun intended) but he loves Lily more than life. All of the circumstances of Daniel’s secret life are explained (with a few surprises I didn’t see coming).
Lily books a flight to Italy and finds the small village where Daniel and his family live. There are some great descriptions of Lily’s first impressions and experiences in Italy , her culture shock, a handsome Italian widower and Lily’s unlikely accommodation above a bakery run by two elderly sisters. The sisters play a major role in this book as they are the founders of the Secret League of Widowed Darners. In reality they are decrepit matchmakers with a communication network to be envied by Verizon. And of course they are mostly ignored because they are tiny, elderly black-clad women who are dismissed as clueless busybodies. Not true. Watch out for this group.
By chance, Lily meets Daniel’s six-year-old daughter. She falls for her – the way she talks, the way she looks…. Complicated! From there the scenes of Tuscany and cuisine are vividly painted by the author.
Some quotes from the book:
In chapter 14 I liked the description of how Lily saw the Tuscan countryside from her rented room….she awoke, blew out a sigh “and let the despair of her miserable situation fully descend”……but then she went to the window and “gazed out at the rolling patchwork of the sea of greens; so many shades and each one deeper or brighter or more dazzling than the one right next to it. She realized that if she had imagined Tuscany, she would have seen it as burnt orange and golden; vibrant colors but harsh and arid compared to the moist and thriving sprawl of grasses, grapes, olives, forest and fields that stretched below her.
It was so beautiful it was impossible to concentrate on what had brought her here.”
Near the very end….I like this quote: “But after that, she let go of her old life as easily as a helium balloon and not even stayed to watch it float away.”
Wow – As a fan of ex-pat type literature I would hope that I could let go of my life in the States “as a helium balloon” and settle down in complete contentment. As long as I had the essentials – my man, good wine, good fresh local foods and nice weather.
What happened was a turn of events I could not foresee and so, I don’t want to put a spoiler in this review. From the viewpoint of an American, and trying to get my head into Lily’s mindset (considering her busy corporate life in New York ), I’m not sure it’s a realistic ending…..but I was pretty happy with how it all tied together.
I enjoyed this book and plan to look for other novels by Sarah-Kate Lynch.
Next on deck is Farewell to Arms and I am linking to Italy in Reading Challenge. This completes my second book in the challenge.
Fans of Sarah-Kate Lynch or looking for a book set in Tuscany? See the links below:
Smoked Mozzarella and Artichoke Ravioli with garlic zucchini…..and a light white wine. I had to include this photo of the cheesy smoked mozzarella and artichoke stuffing in the ravioli….