Intending to visit Italy, I bought a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Italy’. Along with other recommendations resulting from that purchase, Sue Moorcroft’s ‘One Summer in Italy’ came up. I thought it might be fun to read this as I lay sunbathing by the pool at the latter end of our visit. Italy, however, had other ideas. The September stays in Rome, Florence, and Stresa, by Lake Maggiore, were so full of interest that I never did lounge by any pool!
This sweet story, elevated by inter-familial relationship issues, took me back to this romantic land. I recognised the atmosphere, natives, and love of food in Sue Moorcroft’s wonderful descriptions of the place and its people, and immediately felt I could enjoy this book despite it being clearly written with a female readership in mind.
Characters are the most important element in fiction for me: it’s how I approach my own stories. In this fascinating exploration of family secrets, tragedy, betrayal and love, the author has developed some wonderfully flawed characters who come across as real and interesting people.
Because the story is driven by the characters, it’s easy to empathise with the different players, and this is enhanced by having the story presented through more than one point of view. I was transported back to the heat, conviviality, pride, warmth, stubbornness and romance of this beautiful country and its people.
This is essentially a love story, but it is also a lot more than that. There’s a lovely build-up to the inevitable initial consummation of the passion that waits, lurking beneath the surface for the two main protagonists, resulting in a few mildly erotic passages that give a flavour of the climax without being either crude or explicit. We know, even if the pair themselves have yet to recognise, that they are not only in lust but in love.
The author cleverly, through the quibbles, moods, misfortunes and life decisions of the other characters, prevents the pair from further developing their relationship, thereby adding tension and creating that element of wanting to know what happens so that pages are turned.
I won’t spoil this for other readers by giving away the ending. But the denouement takes unexpected twists, revealing some characters in new lights and providing explanations for some of the previous actions as it builds to a satisfying and ultimately inevitable conclusion.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]