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One Italian Summer: 05/23/22
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle is a book about grief. Katy Silver has spent the last year caring for her ailing mother. They had planned to go to Italy together and now that Carol is dead, Katy decides to go by herself, leaving behind Eric, her husband whom she's not even sure she loves any more.
Katy's vacation is to Positano. It's a small seaside town up against the cliffs and the Mediterranean sea. It's also happens to have been a stopping point (or near to one) in One True Loves by Elise Bryant (2022).
Before Katy can even begin to work through her grief, she meets the most unexpected person — her mother but at age thirty. Of course they become fast friends and spend most of their free time together. Katy begins to relearn how live life and have fun with a woman who seems must less organized and way more spontaneous than the woman she knew and loved.
Vying for her attention, though, is Adam. He's everything Eric isn't. He's also willing to date her even though she's married. With Adam Katy has to make a decision: him or Eric? In this regard, One Italian Summer feels like it's at the Venn diagram union of The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (1922) and Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella (2020).
Had Katy not run into Carol, I would have set the novel aside without finishing it. Katy's devotion to her mother and her belief in her mother's perfection got to be too much to bear. The first fifty page or so cycle through Katy grieving, Katy remembering her mother, and Katy thinking about her early romance with Eric. It's repetitive and melodramatic.
Carol's appearance also fundamentally changes where the novel sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. With Carol, the traveler becomes the family (33). The destination is uhoria in that Katy (CC) is both thinking about the past, and interacting with it. The route there is the labyrinth represented by the twisting paths Katy takes through Positano and through the trip's transformative power on Katy's outlook on life.