Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel

This was a delightful story, loaded with lots of evocative images of Rome.  A young woman–I say young, she seems to think she’s practically the Crypt Keeper since she is unmarried at age 34, a thought reinforced by her insensitive family–breaks out of her comfortable life to visit Italy and try to recapture some of the happiness and freedom she felt when she was there in college.  Cat is feeling especially down because not only is she single and ancient, but the most promising guy she met in ages is revealed to be married with a child at the end of their wonderful first date.  When she was first in Italy she had a wonderful wild fling with a sexy Italian. She reconnects with him and spontaneously heads to Rome.  Italy is also a loaded place for her because that is where her mother is from and her mother left the family when she was almost twelve and didn’t return for five years.  Cat was never able to forgive her mother for that. When she arrives in Italy the old flame doesn’t work out, but Cat decides to take a chance and spend her planned few weeks there anyway.

I really liked all the different things going on in this story: the family drama, the beautiful travel descriptions, the food, the romantic aspects, the discovery of a passion for a possible new career.  Sure there were a few too many coincidences, but I enjoyed the way things tied together and the way Cat truly made the trip about finding herself.  It’s never too late to find a new direction in life and this story showed that.

One thing, though,  that annoys me beyond belief  in books or movies is when a character has a conflict with another character and they refuse to even hear the other character’s explanation.  If someone says “I can explain” and calls a zillion times and tries desperately to get you to listen to one sentence, how about letting that person have their say? Because you should be realizing that you were probably mistaken and jumped to a hasty conclusion. And frankly, if I was the person desperately trying to explain myself, I might think you weren’t worth it.


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