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My Daughter’s Leaving Me
“Signore e signori, please fasten your seat belts and return your seatbacks and tray tables to the upright position,” says the airline steward over the PA. “We will be landing in Pisa in fifteen minutes. Signore e signori, siete pregati di allacciare le cinture di sicurezza . . .”
I peer through the window beside me. Bright blue-green sea below, such a vivid aquamarine that unless you saw it with your own eyes you wouldn’t believe it could actually exist in nature. Little white flecks dance across the azure blue, waves tossed up by the wake of the occasional boat. And then the deep aquamarine fades to a lighter blue as the water becomes more shallow; the coast comes into view. It’s my first glimpse of Italy, and it takes my breath away. It’s the start of July, full summer, and the sea and land are bathed in dazzling golden sunshine. I can see a marina along the coastline, tiny dots that must be fishing boats and yachts moored in an inlet. The seashore is the color of pale terra-cotta, but beyond it, beyond the miniature red roofs of the buildings that cluster around it, there’s rich green marshland. I know (from the in-flight magazine, not a more impressive source) that the Leaning Tower of Pisa stands in the Field of Miracles, and I squint, trying as hard as I can to make out a white pillar on a bed of green grass, but no luck.
Italy! My anticipation is intensifying so powerfully that I’m breathless. My mum says that when I was a little girl, I would get so excited at the prospect of a treat that I would barely be able to breathe; I’d rock back and forth, hyperventilating, making little gasping noises, eyes like saucers, mouth open. I twist away from the window, focusing on the gray marled fabric of the seatback in front of me, trying to calm the frantic pounding of my heart.
Italy. It’s really happening. My adventure--maybe my real life--is about to begin.
And at that thought, my heart sinks. I’m feeling suddenly, horribly, guilty.
Because I left my mum behind. For two whole months. We’ve never been apart for that long, and I don’t know how she’s going to manage.
Even worse, I’m secretly, shamefully, glad. Glad to be leaving my mum, to be free for maybe the first time ever in my life. To be alone, without her always there, able to work out who I am in the space her absence will give me. Though I’m sitting in a cramped airline seat, arms tucked into my sides so I don’t accidentally whack my neighbor, I feel as if I have more space to breathe than ever before.
Maybe that’s how it always works; maybe you never realize how squashed in you’ve been until the restrictions vanish, and you can finally stretch out your arms. I feel as if I could whirl around again and again.
I should be in pieces about leaving Mum. I must be a really bad daughter.
I fumble for my phone, then remember I can’t turn it on midair. So I slip my laptop out of my bag for a brief moment and open it up; I’ve saved the photo of the portrait on it as well, just in case I lose my phone.
I click to open the picture, and get the same shock I always do as it comes up onscreen. I stare at myself, at hair decorated with pearls, at a green taffeta dress, my eyes looking back at me, and I know that I’ve done the right thing in leaving my mother behind to come on this quest to find out where I come from. And why on earth this girl from eighteenth-century Italy is my mirror image.
Because as I snap my laptop shut, I know that anyone who saw a resemblance like this would move heaven and earth to find out the reason behind it.
Ever since I saw the portrait in Sir John Soane’s Museum, I plotted and schemed and strategized so successfully that I surprised myself with the sheer extent of my capacity for covert action. The first thing I did was drop the name of the Castello di Vesperi into conversation with my mum.
Faux-casually, of course. I’ve just done my final A‑level exams--English, French, and art history--and the plan is for me to study art history at Cambridge University, if they let me in. In the autumn, I’ll sit the Cambridge entrance exam and go for interviews at the college I’ve applied for, which means my studying isn’t over, even though the A‑levels are. I’m still supposed to be reading art books, going to galleries and exhibitions, building up my knowledge as much as possible. So it’s very easy to tell my mother, over dinner, that I’m going to an exhibition at the Wallace Collection tomorrow with my friend Lily-Rose--paintings from the Castello di Vesperi in Chianti. Her eyes don’t even flicker; she forks up another piece of grilled chicken, smiles at me, and says that sounds lovely. No recognition of the name at all.
I test it out again, at the end of dinner, as I’m stacking the dishwasher; I mention the name of the fictitious exhibition again, and how much I’m looking forward to it.
“Goodness, you are keen!” Mum says. “You’ve been out at museums all this week!” She yawns. “Time to collapse on the sofa, don’t you think? What film shall we watch tonight?”
So that’s totally conclusive. No recognition of the name di Vesperi at all. Mum is the worst liar in the world, which is probably why her brief attempt at an acting career failed completely: she’s incapable of pretending to feel anything she doesn’t. It’s probably why she was such a good model, though. She’s as transparent as a pool of water; every new emotion is instantly registered on her face. We have some of her most famous photos hung in the flat, and I love them all, because they capture Mum’s expressions so perfectly--wistful, happy, thoughtful, loving. She told me once that photographers she worked with learned how to trigger her emotions: they’d yell “Think of cute puppies, Daisy!” if they wanted her to smile, or “Your boyfriend said he needs to take a break!” if they were after romantic melancholy.
And the most famous photo of all, the Vogue cover where she’s holding an orchid in her hand, staring at it with a misty, tender gaze in her big blue eyes, her blond hair falling down her back: in that one, she said, the photographer told her to look at the flower and think of what she loved most in the world.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted June 16, 2012
An intriguing start, but an ending that left me disappointed.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel for review from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: In one sentence: A great start to the novel, but one that left me slightly disappointed.
I fell in love with this novel the second I read the title and looked at the cover. Despite the fact that you can't judge a book by it's cover, I often do and usually that doesn't lead me astray.
If you know me, you know I love Italy--and all things Italy--so I went into this novel with high expectations. This novel started out incredibly, but the ending left me disappointed.
Because I feel like the summary doesn't adequately express what this book is about, I'm going to write a quick summary. The novel starts with Violet staring at a painting from a few hundred years ago featuring a female who looks exactly like her. This leaves her mystified and she sets off to Italy to see if she can figure out her connection to the unnamed woman in the painting.
While there, she attends a type of finishing boarding school ran by an Italian woman named Catia. Her mom isn't thrilled with the idea, but grudgingly decides to let her go. She is joined by a fellow Brit, Kendra, and two American girls, Paige and Kendra. Violet thinks it's going to be the Brits against the Americans until they meet Elisa, Catia's snotty daughter, and the Brits and Americans form a tentative friendship. But who will end up on top? And more importantly who will walk away with the best crush of the summer?
I loved the premise of the novel. The writing was great and the plot line sucked me in. But just when I felt like the novel was building to something amazing...the story ended. Yes, there's going to be a sequel and I'm sure much will be resolved in that novel. But I wanted more to this novel. I spend so much time (270 pages) getting to this incredible moment and then the story ended without any resolution.
Don't get me wrong, the novel was great hence the three stars. I enjoyed every minute of this book, but I would have liked more resolution. I feel like none of the questions I came into the novel with were answered and I left with more answers. Sometimes this is a good thing, but in this case, I don't think it was.
Also, while the characters were well-crafted, I had a little bit of a hard time connecting with them. However, they were interesting and I enjoyed reading about them.
However, I'd like to mention that this book was a cute, fun read that I enjoyed. I'll probably read the sequel and I bet I'll enjoy it.
In Summary: An intriguing novel that I loved reading. The writing was solid, the characters were intriguing.
Warnings/Side-notes: This book had some definite sexual references and undertones. This book also said the f word multiple times. It was used sparingly, but there were maybe 8-10 occurrences of this word. Maybe a little bit more, I didn't actually count.
The Wrap-up: A novel that looked really promising and for the most part was really enjoyable. However, I was dissatisfied with the ending. I felt like there should have been more resolution. I did enjoy this novel though and definitely am curious to see what happens in the sequel.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2012
Flirting in Italian is a real cute and fun read. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I did and enjoy it and it was a quick read.
Despite the fun and chick-lit looking cover, this book is about a mystery. For the most part. I knew it was a mystery from the beginning, it took a while to actually start. Besides a short intro in the beginning, we weren't really introduced to the mystery until over a hundred pages through. And, even though it's a mystery, it is very chick-lit-y.
Violet. She could be very melodramatic at times. And naive. But, overall, I liked her. She seemed to have been sheltered her whole life and is now thrown into a foreign country by herself. She really has to grow up.
The setting. THE top place that I want to visit in the world. Unfortunately, I didn't fall in love with it in this book. While I should feel like I was there, I did not. This part really disappointed me because this is what I was most looking forward to when wanting to read this book.
As the cover suggests, this book does contain some romance. I was not a huge fan of Luca. He could be kind of a jerk sometimes. For the most part, he was okay. I just didn't fall in love with him like I should have.
Despite everything, I did enjoy this book. I just had higher expectations. Had I taken it at face value, I would have enjoyed it more.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2014
Posted June 22, 2013
Loved the book!
if you've read the scarlet wakefield stories you know that the author sometimes ends the book without giving you full closure. Everyone keeps talking about how the beginning was great and the ending left much to be desired, but honestly I had a hard time getting into this book. But once you're in you're hooked! It isn't as thrilling as Henderson's last series, but still very entertaining. I just wanted a bit more romance instead of just making out with the hot boy whenever u run into him. hopefully that's change in the next book! Botttom Line- Can't wait for Kissing in Italian to come out this year, though no one seems to know exactly when.
Posted June 17, 2013
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Posted July 13, 2012
I really enjoyed this novel. Really good plot. Fresh idea and it really kept mmy attention. It was a very enjoyable story and im really looking forward to the next one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2012
If you want to learn some Italian while reading a cute book, this is a great choice. The story follows one girl out of the four that have gone to Italy for the summer. Violet is there with an ulterior motive. She’s seeking out information about a painting of a girl that looks just like her. She wants to know if it could be an ancestor of hers.
Violet looks Italian, but her mother and father are the farthest from it, still she can’t bring herself to ask if she they are her biological family. I find the fact that she is crazy close to her mom, but unable to ask this a little hard to digest. Granted, her mom seems fragile, but it’s something that she should know and feel the right to ask about.
The other girls are completely different from Violet and from one another, not just in looks but in the way they were raised. The two American girls knew each other before this trip, but weren’t really friends, so there is still some difference between them. Quickly they bond over their mutual stance against the daughter of the woman they are in Italy to stay with. The girls all have their different reasons for being there and none of them seem to be able to resist the Italian boys.
It’s definitely a great summer read, with a little more in depth of a storyline and a twist. I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a stand alone book and I was surprised when I was on the last page and that was it. I am desperately in want of the next book already; I need to know how everything turns out!
ARC reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
Posted June 12, 2012
I adore the cover for Flirting In Italian. The pink, blue, and purple make it look FUN and such a summary read! and if that didn't grab you, maybe the title would? flirting in ITALIAN? I started reading this book hoping to get to experience a summer in italy! full of fun, hot boys, and an unforgettable summer. However, the book isn't that, there is a mystery and an ending that leaves you with your mouth wide open and thoughts of "WHAT the hell did I just read?" going in your mind. But have no fear, since this is the first book in a series! So while this book did not answer the big question, let's hope the second book does!
In all honesty, the synopses was very misleading. I thought the book would be told from four POVs (4 girls), and while having a bit of mystery, it wouldn't really center around it. However the whole reason the protagonist went to Italy is because she saw herself (or a doppelgänger) in a painting by an Italian artist at a museum. Hence the flight to Italy. I just want to point out that Violet did not have any family issues; she wasn't a neglected child, or a troublemaker. She was a normal teenager that actually felt guilty for her mother for pursuing this and thinking she isn't her real mother.
However the book does give you the hot italian boys, along with snarky, condescending italian girls. The romance in the book, while it did not dominate, was cute. However the ending just made me rethink the WHOLE romance and thank god I am not in their situation! All in all, Flirting in Italian, was a fun and cute contemporary, and fits to be a great summer read!
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