Chasing the Italian Dream by Jo Thomas
You may remember in my last post talking about the Woman and Home Summer Book Festival. This featured book choices by a host of authors including Jo Thomas. And indeed Jo Thomas' latest book was also chosen in turn by AJ Pearce. Well how fortuitous that a copy found its way into my bag when I went on holiday. (I did purchase it by the way, I am not light-fingered or anything!) I read this novel whilst away and wrote my notes up on the way back home. A very bumpy train making all my notes indecipherable, but I battled through my scrawlings to write this post. 😆
I am firmly in summer reads land and treated myself to Chasing the Italian Dream, Jo Thomas is rapidly becoming an author I look forward to reading. The cover is a delight - blossom, an Italian Square, Pizzeria Nonna (bear that in mind for later on in the review) and a competition to win a portable pizza oven. Excellent!
Plot (From the Back of the Book)
Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her Grandparents house in Southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her Nonna's mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home.
But she's shocked to learn that her Grandfather is retiring from the beloved family Pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can't bear the thought of the place changing hands - especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over.
Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?
This is an absolutely delightful holiday read. As the descriptions of the Italian town and way of living flowed from the page, I felt my shoulders drop and could almost smell the lemon scent in the air and feel the sun on my back.
The story is very sweet, and if I'm being honest, a little predictable. But sometimes that is exactly what is needed in a summer read. A sweet love story and transportation to a beautiful part of the world.
The characters are very likeable. Lucia and Giacomo are quite clearly made for each other, without either of them actually realising it. By far my favourite character was Lucia's Grandmother.
For me, the real story was the story of the Nonna's and their beautiful food. Women, who traditionally are perceived as home-makers and baby-makers, who are not afforded opportunity to shine. It is Lucia's grandfather who makes the pizza and the community is not ready for a female Pizziaola. But the book shows that the Nonna's are tremendously important and valuable.
We learn of recipes passed down from generation to generation, how to make the perfect tomato sauce and who has the tastiest mozzarella and grows the sweetest tomatoes or how to make the perfect pizza dough. The food is truly mouth-watering and handily a number of recipes are included at the back of the book.
The book questions society's attitudes to women which is refreshing to see in a summer read novel.
And so, Jo Thomas is starting to become a power house in summer and winter reads. I'm already looking forward to her next offering.