An Italian Holiday by Maeve Haran

I received this book from Tripfiction.com

Love, Life and Lemons in the sun     

My rating:  4 out of 5     

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4 women (strangers to each other) get away from it all by accepting a holiday in their mutual friend’s beautiful villa in Italy.  A warm, amusing and cheerful novel.

An Italian HolidayFour “older” women are the main characters in this wonderful book:

Claire – a caterer, not only for her business but also for her extended family

Angela – a successful business woman

Sylvie – a flamboyant house designer

Monica – a widow with an overbearing mother

They don’t know each other, but through a mutual friend, grab at the opportunity to escape their everyday lives for a holiday (wrapped up as a business trip) in an idyllic villa in Italy.  They assume they will be alone, so are surprised to find each other there, and their different characters cause some amusing clashes.

As their stay lengthens, they discover that the villa staff appear to be up to something, some of their new found Italian friends appear to be not at all as they seem, but most of all they all fall in love with the villa and its ambience.  Along the way they begin to like each other.

Lemons and lemon groves are central to the story, as is sunshine, friendship and an appreciation of the simple things in life.  Mealtimes are mostly taken on the sunny terrace, and the appreciation of good food (and glasses of Franciacorta sparkling wine) is a recurring theme

Set initially in London, with some interesting historical details, the story quickly moves to a fictional (I assume) place in Southern Italy.  An overall glimpse of customs and ways of life is given, but this is more a book about appreciating differences and opening your eyes to what is around you, than a deep look at the Italian lifestyle.

This is quite a long book (458 pages), but it is an easy and involving read.  I felt I got to know the main characters, and certainly fell in love with the villa and its surroundings.  There are some wonderful surprises in the book and I enjoyed the positive, often humourous, style of the book.    Lovely!

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