Book Review: One Summer in Venice

one summer in venice review JF Gibson

One Summer in Venice
Can a city hold the key to happiness?

Author: Nicky Pellegrino
Published: 2015
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group/Hachette
Pages: 297
My Rating: 4/5

 I first heard about this book via the Australian Writers’ Centre podcast where they interviewed the author, Nicky Pellegrino in episode 65. I really liked listening to what Nicky had to say about her background, her writing and her latest book, so much so that I went and ordered it.

One Summer in Venice tells the story of Addolorata Martinelli, ‘Dolly’, who travels to Venice for a holiday of respite from her busy life back in London. Leaving behind her husband (and troubled marriage), teenage daughter and her stressful restaurant she decides to challenge herself and write a list of what makes her truly happy. Hoping that Venice will bring her a new found perspective on life and happiness, Dolly discovers that and so much more.

What initially drew me to the book was the premise that happiness always seems out of reach. It’s something we focus on too much, without really letting ourselves feel a full spectrum of emotion. We think happiness should be our ultimate goal in life. As does Dolly.

I really enjoyed Nicky’s writing style. It is laid back and the words seem to flow across the page. She sets the scene perfectly. Having been to Venice, I could relate to Dolly getting lost initially through the rabbit-warren of twisting and turning back streets and bridges that is Venice. But even if you haven’t experienced Venice, Nicky will make you feel like you have.

As Dolly is a chef, Nicky draws on her own experiences of being brought with memories of glorious food in Italy and relays this through Dolly. You can almost taste the cicchetti, and sarde de sour and see yourself sitting in a bacaro with a glass of Prosecco. Nicky really brings all five senses alive with her words.

We are also introduced to a wonderful cast of characters who Dolly encounters during her summer in Venice. There’s the bold but secretive Coco, pouty Valentina, intriguing Nanda and sexy Angelo. All whose stories interweave and help Dolly really look inside herself to find her happiness.

Does Dolly return from Venice a lighter, happier person ready to tackle life with new passion? You will have to read it to find out!

The only negatives I have with the book are fairly minor.

Although I could relate to Dolly wanting to run away and be self-indulgent leaving her family behind to find herself, I also found it hard to believe that she could. I don’t think I could leave my family behind, no matter how much I needed to seek something more.

The other thing was, towards the end of the book Nicky drifted from first person point of view into second-person every now and then. Not that this is generally an issue, but I found it a little awkward and unnecessary.

Apart from this, I really enjoyed One Summer in Venice. The ending was satisfying without being brilliant, I enjoyed Dolly’s narrative, the splendid setting of Venice with its romanticism and glorious food, as well as the interesting characters.

Have you ever been lost in Venice?
What are you reading right now?