Published by St. Martin's Press on March 20, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
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A delicious and sharply funny page-turner about "innocent" Americans abroad in 1950s Siena, Italy. Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.
When Scottie's Italian teacher--a teenager with secrets of his own--disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael's dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.
Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.
There are so many secrets in The Italian Party, personal and professional. Scottie and her new husband, Michael, move to post-war Italy for Michael’s job. He’s opening a new Ford Tractor store in Siena. Except we learn quickly that it’s just a cover, he’s actually in the CIA, a fact he doesn’t share with Scottie. We also learn one of Scottie’s secrets early; she’s pregnant and The baby is not Michael’s, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. Secrets, both theirs and others’, unfold throughout the story against the global backdrop of the “Communist Threat” and a citywide horse race that seems like the big event of the year.
Scottie’s teenage Italian tutor was supposed to be in the race, but he’s disappeared. Scottie is determined to find. Scottie is interesting. She’s beautiful, seems maybe not so bright, but she’s fun and friendly. Truth is she’s as smart, and sly, as any of them. She is definitely guided by emotions, which is a nice comparison to her husband, who is about duty and is so worried about letting truths slip that he has to keep a tight rein on himself.
I loved the picaresque town of Siena, and the locals, both native Italians and a few ex-pats. They all have their own agenda and in Italy at the time, the politics are divided, people are still trying to heal from the war. It’s not all sunshine and pasta, but some of the time it is.
The story is engrossing, at turns delightful and funny and sad. It’s charming and entertaining and thought-provoking.