I knew within the first three or four pages of Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer that I wasn’t going to like the protagonist and when I don’t like the protagonist, I usually don’t like the book. The story is narrated by Katy Silver beginning on the last day of her mother Carol’s Shiva. Katy proudly proclaims that her mother is (not was) “the great love of her life.” While it is normal to love a parent it is very strange to be “in love” with one. Katy’s complete co-dependency on her mother has gotten to the point that Katy feels she has no identity other than being Carol’s daughter. She doesn’t know what clothes to buy, how to cook a meal or decorate her own house. She feels she must divorce her supportive and kind husband for no other reason than her mother died.
Before Carol’s death, the two women had planned a two-week vacation to Positano, where Carol had spent a magical summer thirty years ago. When Katy selfishly leaves her husband and takes the trip by herself, I liked her even less. After she quickly befriends a handsome, single man in Italy, I was done with trying to like her. I will probably be an outlier in my opinion. I imagine many readers will positively relate to the strong mother-daughter bond and be more understanding of her grief than I was.
I decided to stick with the story for three reasons. One, I liked Rebecca Serle’s novel, In Five Years, so I hoped this would get better. Second, the plot summary intrigued me since it says that Katy goes to Italy and meets her mother, who is 30-years-old. If done correctly, time travel can be a fun and magical plot. Third, North Texas was thawing out from a snow day and I wanted to transport myself to the warmth of the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, I was disappointed on counts one and two, but I did enjoy my Italian daydreaming. The author’s descriptions of the scenery and food were beautifully written and spot-on.
2.5-stars, rounded up to 3-stars. Thank you to #NetGalley and Atria Books for my advanced reader copy. This book will be published on March 1, 2022.