“An Italian Summer” Rebecca Serle (Atria Books)
Readers of Rebecca Serle know well that she often infuses her novels with touches of magic. In her latest novel, “In Five Years”, a happily engaged woman named Dannie dreams of her future where she is married but with someone she has never met. She wakes up and soon meets this same stranger and he goes out with his best friend. Dannie spends the next five years trying to change the course of the dream.
In Serle’s latest book, “One Italian Summer”, we meet Katy – a bereaved girl whose mother, Carol, has just died of cancer. Katy’s mother was her best friend and this loss shook the foundations of who she is. She leaves her husband and decides to travel to Italy alone on a trip she was supposed to take with her mother. Carol had visited Italy years before and wanted to show her daughter all of her favorite places.
Shortly after Katy arrives in Positano, Italy (to stay at the very real hotel called the Hotel Poseidon, which in this novel offers impeccable service and cuisine and makes you want to book a room immediately), she discover the impossible. His mother is there. Carol is no longer ill, now a happy and healthy 30-something who is also visiting Italy. She does not recognize Katy as her daughter but rather as a pair and wants to show her around.
Yes, you’ll want to keep reading to understand what’s going on and, yes, you’ll have to suspend belief to enjoy the story but, in these cynical times full of snark and memes, it’s nice to surrender to magic from time to time and then. Plus, the wanderlust the book evokes is worth it as is.
“One Italian Summer” is a story of love, loss and that moment in adulthood when we learn that our parents are also human and not always perfect.
The book begins with a quote from TV’s beloved mother, Lorelai Gilmore, of “The Gilmore Girls.” Lauren Graham, who portrayed Gilmore on the series, reads the audio version of the novel.