NEW YORK | “One Italian Summer” Rebecca Serle (Atria Books)
Readers of Rebecca Serle are well-aware she often infuses her novels with touches of magic. In her last novel, “In Five Years,” a happily engaged woman named Dannie has a dream about her future where she’s married but to someone she’s never met. She wakes up and soon meets that same stranger and he’s dating her best friend. Dannie spends the next five years trying to change the course of the dream.
In Serle’s latest book, “One Italian Summer,” we meet Katy — a bereaved daughter whose mother, Carol, has just died of cancer. Katy’s mom was her best friend and this loss has rocked the foundation of who she is. She leaves her husband and decides to travel solo to Italy on a trip that she was supposed to go on with her mother. Carol visited Italy years before and wanted to show her daughter all her favorite places.
Shortly after Katy arrives in Positano, Italy (to stay at the very real hotel called the Hotel Poseidon, which in this novel has impeccable service and food and makes you want to reserve a room immediately), she discovers the impossible. Her mother is there. Carol isn’t sick anymore, now she’s a healthy, happy 30-year-old who is visiting Italy, too. She doesn’t recognize Katy as her daughter but instead as a peer and wants to show her around.
Yes, you’ll want to keep reading to figure out what is happening and, yes, you’ll have to suspend belief to enjoy the story but in these cynical times full of snark and memes, it’s nice to surrender to magic every now and then. Plus, the wanderlust that the book conjures is worth it as is.
“One Italian Summer” is a story about love, loss and that point in adulthood where we learn our parents are human, too, and not always perfect.
The book begins with a quote from the beloved TV mother, Lorelai Gilmore, of “The Gilmore Girls.” Lauren Graham, who portrayed Gilmore on the series, reads the audiobook version of the novel.