BOOKS TO FUEL YOUR ITALIAN WANDERLUST

Our Darkest Night
By Jennifer Robson

Antonina Mazin lives with her father, a brilliant doctor, in Venice, Italy. As the Nazis close in on their little world in the fall of 1943, her father knows he must send his daughter away to safety. Antonina becomes Nina. She is “married” to Nico Gerardi, a farmer in the countryside. This handsome young man is to keep Nina out of danger through the war, and she will pose as his wife and help on the family farm. Manual labor is not an easy change for Nina, a lifelong city girl. As the war inches closer to their village, the local Nazi officials grow suspicious of Nico’s travels. Much to Nina’s surprise, she is falling hopelessly in love with the kindest, bravest man she has ever met. Happiness seems just within reach as the horrors of World War II close in on them. A family saga filled with history, love and the most gorgeous Italian scenery.

One Hot Italian Summer
By Karina Halle

After losing her closest friend and writing partner, Grace Harper has signed a contract for a completely different novel, a drama. Writing mysteries came naturally from Grace’s bleak Edinburgh apartment that eerily faced the cemetery. Now, suffering from writer’s block and melancholy, Grace feels like she is drowning. Her agent, Jana, offers a month in a Tuscan villa surrounded by rolling hills, Italian sunshine and the opportunity to quietly write. While taking a quick dip in the luxurious pool, her hopes are quickly dashed with embarrassment when the most handsome Italian man she has ever seen walks onto the patio. Claudio, Jana’s ex, was supposed to be away. Together they agree they can manage to share the space for a month. Claudio is charming, sexy and an extremely talented artist. Although Grace finds him irresistible, she is terrified Jana will discover the truth. This explosive and steamy read is the perfect summer getaway. Mamma Mia! 

In Other Words
By Jhumpa Lahiri

Fans of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri have enjoyed her fictional stories of immigrant families loosely reflecting her life as an American daughter of Bengali immigrants. “In Other Words” is her first nonfiction that reads like a novel but is a heartfelt memoir describing the author’s long-awaited dream of moving her family from the U.S. to Italy. After the family’s arrival in Rome, she sets herself a challenge: to read and write only in Italian. The written and spoken words that allow us to communicate with the world are precious, and for a writer, words are everything. This glimpse into the rare process of an author finding a brave new voice is fascinating. “In Other Words” is reminiscent of another book about the love of language, Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich. Both illustrate how we are affected and emotionally attached to our first language compared to those learned later in life.

WATCH TIP: Want to be in Italy pronto? Travel to Sicily by watching “The Godfather” (1972) or “Love & Gelato” (2022), a romcom in Rome, both on Netflix now!

The Italian Job
By Kathryn Freeman

Anna Roberts has lost her boyfriend, job and apartment seemingly overnight and is forced to move back home with her father. Instantly annoyed by her neighbor – Jake has always been trouble! – Anna works hard to avoid him and his loud motorcycle. One day Anna finds an ideal opportunity to manage and cook at a magnificent private castle in Italy. There’s one catch: the owners are looking to fill the caretaking position with a couple. Initially discouraged, Anna thinks Jake might also be searching for a brand new start. The two apply and surprisingly get the job. Now they are off to Italy to spend a year pretending to be in love. After one or two hurdles it is clear they actually work well together and make a dynamic team. When a “pretend” kiss shoots off more than a few rockets, Anna realizes that maybe it won’t be that hard to fake it after all.

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Karen Newfield is first and foremost a reader, she has reviewed hundreds of books on her blog www.readingandeating.com. And, more recently, this new Keys resident has also begun writing.