Author: Robert Hellenga
Publisher: Back Bay Books (an imprint of Little, Brown and Company)
Print Date: February 2009
Copyright Date(s): 2007 (Reading Group Guide c2009)
Pages: 340 + Reading Group Guide (includes an interview with the author)
Series: Can be read as stand alone (I did). However, Margot Harrington's story is told in The Sixteen Pleasures and Woody's story can be found in The Fall of a Sparrow. Margot's father's story is told in Philosophy Made Simple.
BOOK DESCRIPTION (from back cover):
Margot Harrington is an American woman living in Italy whose memoir, The Sixteen Pleasures, about her discovery of a priceless masterwork of Renaissance erotica — and the misguided love affair it inspired — is finally, after twenty-five years, being made into a movie. Margot, with the help of her lover, Woody, has written a script that she thinks will validate her life. Of course, her script is not used, but never mind — happy endings are best for movies.
At the former convent in Florence where the movie — based on the memoir but now called The Italian Lover — is being shot, Margot enters into a drama she never imagined, where her ideas of home, love, art, and aging collide with the imperatives of commerce and the essential unknowability of other cultures and other people.
I won this as a free copy (via Wendy and Hachette); it is my first review (on this blog).
The Italian Lover is an interesting novel. It portrays a variety of perspectives and looks at just what love, home, and life is all about. Following the journey and emotions of Margot and Woody, Miranda, Esther, Michael and his wife, Beryl... well, it wakes you up to how complicated love can be. Sometimes it's a flash of passion, sometimes it's all the memories shared with someone. Sometimes it means romance or home or just finding the meaning in your life. In the Reading Guide the interviewer brought up how at some point or another, all the major characters looked out from a high spot and what that meant... I have to admit, I wasn't that observant. But it does show how much this book can make you think.
- Interesting characters, setting, and story
- Look at the production of a movie
- Glipse of Italy and its culture
- Because it takes place in Italy, the naming of places, food, etc. means a lot of Italian is used in the story. Can make it more difficult to follow the story.
- I really have difficulty believing its so much easier, simpler, and expected for Italian men to have affairs. And there are several affairs throughout the story.