ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Today I’m sharing my thoughts about One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle. My thanks to Milly Reid of Quercus for the proof copy of the book. It’s out now in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.
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.
Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and daughter. With her signature ‘heartbreaking and poignant’ (Glamour) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.
There was something else that appealed to me about this book and that was what appeared to be a time travel element. Katy is mourning the loss of her mother, a woman who meant everything to her. This loss leaves her life in a suspended state and she leaves her husband behind to take a solo trip to Italy, the holiday she was meant to take with her mother, Carol. Whilst in Positano, who should Katy meet but Carol……30 years ago Carol!
The first half of this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, perhaps because Carol didn’t play as big a part as I thought she would. By the second half, I’d settled into the story and was thoroughly enjoying the setting and the mouth-watering descriptions of food. Seeing Carol as a much younger woman helped Katy to deal with her grief and to lower the pedestal she’d placed her on. This is a story of mothers and daughters, the bond between them, and what happens when that bond is broken. It’s also about understanding that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes.
I love time travel stories and I enjoyed joining the dots between the past and present. I also love Italy and I was thoroughly transported to Positano, Naples and Capri, to the clear blue sea, the intense heat, and the inviting eateries, all described beautifully by the author. Rebecca Serle writes such clever and original stories, ones which never turn out how I expected (this is a good thing!) and are full of emotion. I’m already wondering what her next book will be about.
Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between NYC and LA. Serle most recently co-developed the television adaptation of her YA series FAMOUS IN LOVE for Freeform and Warner Brothers Television. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Her bestselling US debut adult novel DINNER LIST was a Book of the Month club pick, Costco bookclub pick, and Bustle Bookclub selection.