I received an E-ARC of this book via NetGalley and the publishers Quercus in exchange for an honest review.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mum, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, the mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and – of course – delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears, healthy and sun-tanned… and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how – all she can focus on is that somehow, impossibly, she has her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman who came before.
But can we ever truly know our parents? Soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
We might only be three months in to 2022 but I think I’ve found what will be one of my favourite reads of the year in this book, One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle.
Admittedly, I didn’t take to her previous book In Five Years but something about this book really appealed to me before it popped up on my NetGalley shelf and – I’m glad to say – it lived up to my expectations.
The book follows Katy after the devastating death of not only her mother but her best friend, her confidante, her everything. Knowing the subject matter of the book, I was worried it’d be a never ending grief fest and – whilst that can be good to read amongst the sickly sweet romances I love – I really wasn’t fancying that. Lucky for me, the balance between the unimaginable loss and the comfort Katy finds on her trip was incredible.
Whilst the loss element in this book is something both commonly explored and commonly experienced, I loved the idea of Katy literally finding her mum – several years younger- in Italy. I forever wonder what my parents were like before I was born and Serle plays with this idea in a way that is equally fun and heart wrenching. I loved the dynamic between Katy and the younger version of her Mum.
The dynamics between characters in this book is brilliant but what truly stood out to me was the descriptions. I haven’t been to Italy in several years, and haven’t been to the particular area ever, but the picture that Serle creates is so vivid and vibrant it’s almost impossible to not feel like you’re there every step of the way.
My only gripe with this book was the fact that it took a while for me to get over the strangeness of it. Saying that, once I did it proved to be both a delightful look at a mother daughter relationship and a realistic portrayal of grief. I just wish I was reading it basking in the summer sun or, better yet, in Italy. A girl can dream….