April 30, 2006

Summer in Tuscany

Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler
Contemporary Fiction
Finished on 4/20/06
Rating: A- (8/10 Very Good)

What if we went to Italy
A suitcase of books and one bag a piece for the summer
I don't speak a word of Italian
Except for Campari and soda for two, how much is a Lire
Yes, a villa will do and a breeze, in Tuscany please
What if we spent all of our days,
improving our minds, learning new ways to be lazy
It wouldn't be too much of a strain
Relax after breakfast till lunch comes around
Can't wait for dinner, oh, I need to lie down
And refuel, out by the pool
What if the ancients were lazy like us
Too blissed out to paint, to sketch or to sculpt
Just as relaxed as the tower of Pisa
Not ever missing that old Mona Lisa
What if we never got back on the plane
As summer turned colder and then warmer again
Losing all track of the passing of years
Till it no longer mattered how long we'd been here
What if we went to Italy
Maybe next year, just you and me for the summer
I still can't speak any Italian
But words are replaced under Siennese skies
By nothing so much as a nod, and a sigh,
and a wish to be always like this

What If We Went To Italy is one of my all-time favorite songs by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I would love nothing more than to pack a bag of books and spend a month in villa in Italy. Until then, books like Elizabeth Adler’s Summer in Tuscany will just have to suffice. I thoroughly enjoyed this light & breezy read that made my mouth water for delicious Italian cooking and my heart long for the beautiful countryside and art found in the museums and piazzas. I immediately fell into the narrative, quickly engrossed in Gemma Jericho’s crazy life (as an ER doctor) with her 14-year-old daughter, Livvie, and elderly mother as they left the hustle and bustle of New York City for the calm, relaxing hills of Tuscany, returning to Nonna’s childhood home to sort out a mysterious inheritance.

This isn’t a great work of literature (the daughter’s voice, full of “like” and “y’know” seemed a tad bit overdone), yet I hesitate to say it’s simply a romance, either. It’s more like a bit of brain candy or fluff that borders on the romance side (a la Danielle Steele), but with a little more substance. But just barely. It’s fairly predictable, but not so much that I was annoyed. Gemma reminded me a bit of Janet Evanovich’s klutzy bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, providing several laugh-out-loud passages that kept the story from becoming too sappy and sentimental.

I love discovering a new author and am anxious to take another armchair vacation with one of Adler’s heroines. I have Invitation to Provence in my stacks and can’t wait to read it this summer. Meanwhile, I plan to hang on to Summer in Tuscany for future reference. The author has spent a lot of time in Italy and although the village she writes about doesn’t exist, many of the restaurants, shops, hotels and tourist attractions are real.

If you’re looking for an entertaining “feel good” book to help escape the rainy days of spring, I recommend Summer in Tuscany. And perhaps to set the mood, a nice glass of wine and Mary Chapin Carpenter playing in the background. Ciao!


  1. Anonymous2:40 PM

    My book club is going to do a Tuscany month. So this will be a great selection to share with them.

  2. Is your group planning to read several books set in Tuscany? Fiction and nonfiction? I'd love to hear what you read! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Anonymous3:16 PM

    I first began reading Adler sometime ago with her book Lenie. I made it a poitn to contine reading all of ehr boosk as soon as they were published. Tehre was a period when she wrote a few mysteries that turned me off. That all changed as soon as I read Summer in Tuscany.

    See Les, we agreed on this title.

  4. Nancy,

    Have you read An Invitation to Provence? I plan to read it on my upcoming vacation. I hope it's a good read for a long flight.

  5. I read Invitation to Provence which was good and also The Last Tiem I Saw Paris. I still have A House in Amalfi among my to be reads.

    I would also suggest reading Leonie and the sequel Peach.

  6. Thanks, Nancy. I'll let you know how I like these once I get to them.


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