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The Italian Party: A Novel Hardcover – March 20, 2018
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Charming fun from cover to cover." ―HelloGiggles
"Intriguing and compelling." ―Women's Wear Daily
"Perfect for anyone who has dreamed of escaping life to live abroad, and addresses how the political can influence the personal in ways we might never expect." ―Real Simple
"This novel is dashing, fun, sexy and witty―a fun read on multiple levels." ―Historical Novel Society Magazine
"Set in Siena in 1956, this debut novel is a spy thriller, comedy of manners, and valentine to Italy, spiked with forbidden sex and political skulduggery...The ending is unexpected, with the author displaying a sophisticated, nuanced view of love and marriage that feels very modern. Or maybe it's just Italian." ―Kirkus Reviews
"[Lynch's] affection for and knowledge of the Italian people and way of living are evident: her food descriptions in particular are droolworthy. Readers will be rooting for Michael and Scottie through the story’s many adventures and intrigue, while political and social commentary add an extra layer of depth." ―Booklist
"The story plays like a confectionary Hollywood romance with some deeper notes reminiscent of John le Carré and Henry James. Scottie is a resilient main character who might have been played by Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn in a 1950s movie adaptation of this entertainingly subversive take on that seemingly innocent period." ―Publisher's Weekly
"In her gracefully written debut, as effervescent as spumante, Lynch dramatizes the allure and power of secrets - in politics and in marriage - while depicting with sly humor the collision between the American do-gooder naïveté and Italian culture. Italophiles and anyone interested in spying and the expat experience will love the spot-on social commentary." ―Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Christina Lynch has accomplished a rare American literary feat with this captivating novel whose keen political edge and historical resonance feel very timely. Her grasp of mid-century Cold War culture, of sexual identity, the world of personal secrecy and intimacy, trust and betrayal, naive patriotism and profound national identity, are swirled into a page-turner that is both a genuine romance and a thoughtful spy story." ―Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist's Daughter
"Tremendous fun! Wives with big secrets, husbands with bigger ones, swirling around a 1950s Siena teeming with seduction and spycraft." ―Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Travelers and The Expats
"Imagine Beautiful Ruins plus horses; Toujours Provence with spies, a mystery and sex. The Italian Party is a fizzy, page-turning delight that begs for a Campari and soda!" ―Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me
"Christina Lynch’s hapless American newly-weds give us plenty to worry about as they dig their way into the dark heart of Italy (1956) and into the even darker heart of the CIA. They give us plenty to laugh about, too, in this volatile mixture of old-world charm and cold-war politics." ―Bob Hellenga, author of The Fall of a Sparrow
About the Author
Christina Lynch’s picaresque journey includes chapters in Chicago and at Harvard, where she was an editor on the Harvard Lampoon. She was the Milan correspondent for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and disappeared for four years in Tuscany. In L.A. she was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After; Encore, Encore; The Dead Zone and Wildfire. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. She is the co-author of two novels under the pen name Magnus Flyte. She teaches at College of the Sequoias. The Italian Party is her debut novel under her own name.
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That blooms so tender
Each kiss a dew drop
Of sweet surrender
“Love is a moment
Of life enchanging
Let’s take that moment
That tonight is granting.
There’s no tomorrow
When love is new
Now is forever
When love is true
So kiss me and hold me tight
There’s no tomorrow
There’s just tonight.”
-- “There’s No Tomorrow,” (Ole Sole Mio) Dean Martin, written by Christopher Difford, Glenn Tilbrook
It is April of 1956 when this story begins in Tuscany, where two newlyweds, Michael and his wife Scottie, are driving down the Via Cassia after leaving Florence. They’ve brought with them, almost a symbol of America, a Ford Fairlane, canary yellow and white, sized for comfort, and outrunning the tiny Italian cars they were passing with ease.
How very notable to bring something with them that represents something so very American. The people that they pass can’t help but stare, and think: ”Americani”
The war had ended eleven years before, and the rebuilding going on around them was still an ongoing reminder. Scottie is taking in all the scenery as they driving, and asking her new husband questions about himself, his life. After all, they barely know each other. All she knows about him, really, is that he is handsome, well dressed in the normal attire of the times, a nice suit, and from where she sits, excellent prospects for the future. All he really knows about her is that she is stunningly pretty, twenty years old, and dresses in an effortlessly stylish fashion, typically adorned with something like the pearl choker she is wearing on this day, a hat, and a smile, and a Vassar education. A living, breathing, walking commercial for the American Way of Life. ”Gli americani” but she carried herself in a way that reflected a refinement, raffinatezza that appealed to the people of Siena, the city where the world’s first bank came to be.
Old-world charm abounds here, even though the ruins of war are visible to remind all of the recent past, the food seduces these newlyweds, lulling Scottie, especially, into believing in their marriage despite the stories they’ve each withheld from the other, the lies they’ve told one another to be where they are. Married, but without any real knowledge of who the other really is.
Secrets that needed to be kept secret are part of this story, Michael’s opened a Ford dealership to sell tractors to the local farmers, but that’s only one of his secrets.
This is a bit of a romp, with intrigue around every corner as the story progresses, and the American government concerned about Russia’s involvement in anything and everything. The era of fear of an internal infiltration of communist agendas, the fear that it would infect Americans and turn the people, the country toward communism. There’s the other side of this that is more personal, how two newlyweds who would be shunned by others if their truths were told, truths that have the potential to divide them from each other. Life was complicated in general, but living as relative strangers in a strange land complicates things more. Trust is slowly gained, and walls eventually come down, but there are surprises right up to the end.
A deliciously engaging, entertaining read.
Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
Ciao! Grazie to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read this Advanced Reader Copy of The Italian Party, a novel set in Siena, Italy in 1956. Thinking of my reading experience overnight, I decided to change my rating to a full five stars. In full disclosure, Italy is my favorite place on earth and I was excited when I was approved to read this novel. While I’ve not been to Siena, I feel like I just had a mini-vacation there from my couch. Lynch is artful in capturing atmosphere, I could taste the food, smell the wine, the lemons, the olives, and yes, the horse dung when we visit Siena with Scottie and Michael Messina. Scottie and Michael are young newlyweds, Scottie just twenty-years-old and Michael, twenty-four. From the outside, they are the perfect 1950s couple. Scottie is a Vassar girl and equestrian who marries Michael, a Yale grad from Bronx. Michael is of Sicilian descent but sees himself as one hundred percent American. The couple travel to Italy for Michael’s work as a salesman of American built tractors. If they sound one dimensional, just wait. Their secrets reveal many complexities that I won’t even hint at because, no spoilers here. The couple both go into their marriage without really knowing each other. They do what they are supposed to do in the 50s and marry to start a family. But their lies of omission flare up throughout the book and make for a fascinating read.
While the book is a fun, sexy, gossipy book, The Italian Party is so much more. The story takes place in post WWII Italy when Communism was a threat to the country. Lynch’s exploration of history and politics during this era play a major part in the story. There is also a mystery surrounding fourteen-year-old Robertino, one of my favorite characters. Other characters, like the native Italians, and their transformation through the story are fun and fascinating. Nonna Bae is an elderly crochety Sienese woman; Sebastian Gordon, a British bon vivant who is fairly open about his sexuality even in repressive times; and the Messina’s landlord Carlo Piccolini and his disconsolate wife Franca are a few of my favorites. Let me not forget another character, Ecco, Scottie’s little dog ever-present companion. I fell in love with Ecco just as Scottie does. I don’t think I’ve seen an animal used to highlight mood so well.
If you can’t get away but would love to visit Italy for a day or two, meet some great people and learn a little history along the way, I recommend this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Grande Successo! this book was an unexpected Gem for me....Siena,Italy 1956....Two Young newly married Americans....Read more