I adored In Five Years by Rebecca Serle which was on my Top Reads list for 2020 and when I saw this new one, One Italian Summer, was set partly in Positano which I have been fortunate enough to visit, I couldn’t wait to read it too. It’s out now in hardback and for e-readers.
About the book
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.
Everyone grieves in a different way but Katy seemed to have an extreme reaction to her mother’s death. She was incredibly close to her mum and considered her almost her one true love despite being married to Eric who really seemed to care about her. She is devastated by her loss and her life starts to unravel.
There’s an unusual aspect of the story in that Katy goes on the Italian holiday she and her mother had planned to take together. Somehow, impossibly, she meets her mother Carol as a young woman. This carefree, spontaneous, exuberant Carol is so very different from the measured and organised woman Katy knew. Now obviously this couldn’t happen but it does make you wonder what you would do if you had that opportunity. What would you ask a loved one if you had that chance again?
And oh that setting though! The author describes the Amalfi coast and Positano so well. The steep hillside with the colourful houses seeming to cling to it, the heat of the Italian sunshine, the sparkling blue water of the Mediterranean sea – all are so vividly depicted. I’ve only visited once and it truly is a beautiful place. The evocative food descriptions will have you craving lovingly made Italian food.
One Italian Summer is a relatively short and easy read but a thought provoking one too. There are some very moving scenes and for all Katy’s sorrow, there is something rather uplifting about the book. One Italian Summer is a book to be enjoyed in the sunshine with a chilled glass of Italian vino rosato.
About the Author
Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. Serle developed the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love, and is also the author of The Dinner List, and YA novels The Edge of Falling and When You Were Mine. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. Find out more at RebeccaSerle.com.