Review

Under Italian Skies. Nicky Pellegrino

Under Italian Skies book cover

Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 12th April 2016
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 287
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
Rating:
4.5 stars                           Add to Goodreads

Stella has life under control – and that’s the way she likes it. For twenty-five years, she’s been trusted assistant to a legendary fashion designer, but after her boss dies suddenly, she’s left with nothing to do apart from clear the studio.

It seems as though the life she wanted has vanished. She is lost – until one day she finds a house swap website and sees a beautiful old villa in a southern Italian village. Could she really exchange her poky London flat for that?

But what was intended as just a break becomes much more, as Stella finds herself trying on a stranger’s life. As the villa begins to get under her skin, she can’t help but imagine the owner from the clues around her. She meets his friends, cooks the local food he recommends and follows suggestions to go to his favourite places. But can an idea of someone ever match up to the reality?

As Stella wonders if she can let go of the safety of her past, perhaps there’s a chance for her to find a way into her future…

My thoughts banner
Under Italian Skies – another wonderful read from talented author Nicky Pellegrino. This book transports you to a small place in Italy, and wraps you round with the Italian way of life that has nothing to do with a touristy view.
Stella house swaps and finds herself in the small town of Triento in a villa perched atop a steep hillside.  Her life as she has known it has finished, and she is unsure of where it will lead next. She is willing to take a risk, step out of her comfort zone and do something different. This time in Italy is like a time in a cocoon for her, and what will emerge at the end of it is something completely new. 
Stella is a kind of a catalyst for some of the local people she befriends in this place. There is Tosca – an older woman with some experience of being a movie star, a bit of a diva, but with a sadness within. Then there is Raphaela who owns a trattoria, for whom food is her way of life, yet she still mourns her departed and beloved husband. Raphaela and Tosca have been life long friends and know how to ‘manage’ each other. 
Francesca is the woman that runs the linen shop in the village. She is an interesting character – somewhat manipulative, but as her story unfolds I have to say I found some sympathy for her.  Then there of course is Leo – the man Stella is house swapping with. They begin to build a relationship with each other through email. Leo has left Stella with a way of exploring the local area that is utterly charming.
If you are a food lover this book is for you. I’m not, but it still didn’t prevent my envying the richness of the love of food and family this book portrays. The passion that a true cook brings to their meal preparation  had my mouth watering many a time.
I loved the characters, many of them dealing with the issues of living and supporting each other with friendship and love. I gave a sigh of disappointment as I turned the page – and found there was no more. Always the sign that a book and its characters have really connected with me.
delish book iconwell written book iconwomen's fiction book iconcover love book icon
About the author: When Nicky Pellegrino’s Italian father fell in love with and married a Liverpool girl, he shared what all Italians know – that you live to eat instead of eating to live. This mantra is the inspiration behind Nicky’s delicious novels. Nicky hoards her holiday time so that she and her husband can return to Italy to meet up with family, eat the best mozzarella and research her books. She now lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Web:       Nicky Pellegrino
Review

One Summer in Venice. Nicky Pellegrino

book cover

One Summer in Venice
Nicky Pellegrino
Published: Hachette Australia
Date: April 14th
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 304
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Add to Goodreads

Addolorata Martinelli knows she should be happy. She has everything she thought she wanted – her own business, a husband, a child. So why does she feel as if something is missing? Then when her restaurant, Little Italy, is slated by a reviewer, she realises that she’s lost the one thing she thought she could always count on, her love of food.

So Addolorata heads to Venice for a summer alone, aiming to find the ten things that make her happy. Once she’s found them, she’ll construct a new life around her ten things, but will they include her life in London?

My thoughts banner
One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino was an enjoyable read.  It held my attention all the way through.  It is written in the first person so we only really get the view of Addolorata (Dolly), so it left me a little in the dark about what her husband Eden was really like and the reasons for some of his actions.
Addolorata’s sister Pieta sends her off on a week’s holiday to Venice when things are tumbling down round her. She works really hard and is at the moment the actual bread winner for the family as her husband is still recovering from a back injury.  He thinks Dolly is making him feel guilty and that he is not pulling his weight.  I actually didn’t sympathise with him very much, perhaps I wasn’t meant to as it was all from Dolly’s point of view. However I still wasn’t totally sold on him.
In Venice Dolly meets a number of local people who draw her into their lives.  Coco is a mysterious older woman who catches Dolly’s attention for her flamboyance in dress and activities.  Later Dolly is caught up in finding out who this woman is and how she fits in with the lives of the other people that Dolly meets.
I liked the setting of the book of course!  It shows Venice from the eyes of tourists but also from the local people that live there.  The way of life, the cooking and socialising permeated this book in a way that I wanted to read every line.  The love of food was obvious.
Dolly sets out on Coco’s advice to find out what really makes her happy and eventually she finds a rhythm and does just that, finally deciding by the end of the book what really makes her happy. I enjoyed her new learnings, her new wisdom, her final decisions.
This was the first book by this author I’ve read, I look forward to reading a few more of her previous books.
4 stars