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Italian for Beginners

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Overview

Thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant Cat Connelly has always lived life on the safe side. But after her little sister gets married, Cat wonders if she has condemned herself to a life of boredom by playing by the rules. She decides to take a chance for once, accepting an invitation to spend a month with an old flame in Italy. But her reunion with the slick and gorgeous Francesco is short-lived, and she finds herself suddenly alone in Rome. Now, she must see if she has the courage to live outside the lines for...

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Italian for Beginners

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Overview

Thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant Cat Connelly has always lived life on the safe side. But after her little sister gets married, Cat wonders if she has condemned herself to a life of boredom by playing by the rules. She decides to take a chance for once, accepting an invitation to spend a month with an old flame in Italy. But her reunion with the slick and gorgeous Francesco is short-lived, and she finds herself suddenly alone in Rome. Now, she must see if she has the courage to live outside the lines for the first time - and to face a past she never understood. It will take an unexpected friendship with a fiery Italian waitress, a whirlwind Vespa tour of the Eternal City with a handsome stranger, and a surprise encounter with an old acquaintance to show Cat that life doesn't always work out the way you expect, but sometimes you have to have fall in order to fly.

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Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times
"A fun, high-spirited [novel]."
Melissa Senate
"With her characteristic wit and warmth, Harmel tells a very entertaining story of a woman who reinvents herself almost without realizing it."
Julia Holden
"Overflowing with bubbly fun...intoxicating with the magic of Paris...Like a bottle of champagne...You'll drink it down in one glamorous gulp."
From the Publisher
"A fun, high-spirited [novel]."—Romantic Times

"Overflowing with bubbly fun...intoxicating with the magic of Paris...Like a bottle of champagne...You'll drink it down in one glamorous gulp."—Julia Holden, author of ONE DANCE IN PARIS

"With her characteristic wit and warmth, Harmel tells a very entertaining story of a woman who reinvents herself almost without realizing it."—Melissa Senate, author of SEE JANE DATE and LOVE YOU TO DEATH

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446538305
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/13/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 305,270
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristin Harmel is the author of four women's fiction novels. She also reports for People magazine, and her work has appeared in magazines including Glamour, Runner's World, Woman's Day, American Baby, and Men's Health. She's also the author of two novels for teens. Kristin Harmel lives in Orlando, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    not bad

    This book makes me want to go to Rome even more than I already do. Such beautiful images of the ancient city; I want to see them for myself! Maybe I should become an accountant and lead such a boring life that I don't use any of my vacation days and I have a big enough nest egg to take a whole month of to spend in Rome....It's probably too late for that.

    But Cat's life is very boring. And she messes up a perfectly good date by making an assumption about a perfectly decent man. Personally, I thought it was rather obvious that Michael wasn't really being a jerk, but it takes at least 200 pages until Cat finds out the truth. And in that 200 pages she ignores both phone calls and emails from him, in which he could have easily explained the situation.

    The other thing that bothered me about this book was that the author seemed to be stuck on "Roman Holiday". I do understand that there was a reason for it (Audrey Hepburn reminded Cat of the mother she thought betrayed her), but I still felt like it was dragged on a bit too long. Especially when Marco kept quoting the movie even after Cat told him that she hadn't seen it.

    But despite these things, I did enjoy the story. I loved the character of Karina, a feisty Italian woman. I loved Cat's journey of self-discovery; finding out who she was through her mother's city. And I liked how she didn't immediately turn to a man to define her. Once she started discovering who she was as a person without all of her boring trappings, she realized she needed to spend time with herself before she could think about having a relationship with a man.

    And I especially loved reading about Rome. Being the history buff that I am, I really need to get out there for myself soon! In the meantime, I'll live vicariously through characters in books...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Charming!

    A great story about a modern woman looking to find out what is missing from her life and change that!!! A light read that won't disappoint!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Setting, Poor Plot

    The writing was unchallenging and the characters were fairly shallow. Overall, I felt that the author had too many plots and too many loose ends that she hurried to tie up in the end. I admit that the end was better than I had expected, but it wasn't worth reading the entire book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    I want to visit Rome!

    I really enjoyed this book. I've never been to Italy and I felt I got a real "flavor" of Rome. I like Cat Connolly a great deal...I feel like her in some ways and I think most people will recognize a little of themselves in her. Her friendship with Karina is quite real and funny. I liked watching Cat's growth and her realization that her dreams matter, too!

    I think you'll really like this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Brava, Harmel!

    As a fan of Kristin Harmel's past books, I was very eager to read this one and was not disappointed. While I found it a little more serious than some of her past titles, I felt that the story and character development were both deep and touching. I especially liked and related to Cat's age issues. Harmel's lighthearted, often laugh-out-loud funny touch is evident here, but I feel she dug deeper and gave us a very well-rounded and likable character for whom we can all cheer and relish her victories.

    One of my favorite things about the book was Harmel's descriptions of Italy... I've never been, but I truly felt like I was there when I was reading it. Very evocative, very detailed. I really liked the parallels to Roman Holiday, and found the ties to it to be charming without seeming like a rip-off.

    Cat's self-discovery is empowering and uplifting. I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2014

    The storyline started out promising... but quickly became very p

    The storyline started out promising... but quickly became very predictable. To be fair, Kristen Harmel did a good job in bringing Rome to her American readers. By her references in the text, she did her research of the ancient city well. But the biggest issue I had with the book was it's writting style. Harmel did not use an extensive vocabulary; it had the feel of a young adult novel. I become frusterated with the main character, Cat, from almost the very beginning. The good news is that there were redeeming supporting characters, like Cat's new Italian friend Karina. Overall, a good beach book if you're looking for an easy entertaining read. Not for you if you're looking for something more in depth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Good book

    Nice quick to read romance novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Fun read

    Loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    Good read.

    Good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    a

    a

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2012

    Old Memories Renewed

    A bittersweet story set mostly in the Eternal City of Rome. Just reading it made me feel I was back there again among the ancient ruins and the current city with its amazing small restaurants and, most of all, the wonderful Italian people. This was my first book by this author but I am already planning to read more!

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great travel read

    I enjoyed the story line, was a great book to read while traveling, it did make me want to go to italy. I wish the ending was in more detail, i felt it needed more to it. But overall a good read. Will read more of her work.

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  • Posted May 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    As light and sparkly as a glass of Prosecco; a perfect summer read

    Cat Connelly lives a perfectly safe - if boring - existence. The daughter of an Irish father and an Italian mother, she's spent her life being who she thought others wanted her to be: organized, responsible, and always there to cook, clean, or dole out money in a bind. She works at a New York accounting firm for the money and health benefits, but her true love is digital photography. She has serious issues due to her mother's lengthy absence during her adolescence, and at thirty-five, she's still single and has serious commitment issues. She hasn't taken a vacation in years, but after a very public humiliation by her senile Irish grandmother, Cat ends up in Rome, a city she last visited as an exchange student thirteen years ago.

    Once in Rome, Cat struggles to understand what's keeping her in the Eternal City after a series of unplanned disasters derail her plans. It's certainly not Francesco, her former flame. The handsome Marco has the annoying habit of calling Cat "Princess Ann" and making constant references to Roman Holiday even though she's never seen the movie (Cat's grandparents were extras, and even named her mother Audrey Hepburn Verdicchio), but there's little action on the romantic front. And Cat's afraid to contact her Roman family, whom she hasn't heard from since her mother's death nearly two decades ago.

    Over the course of four weeks, Cat makes peace with the ghosts that haunt her. At the same time, she rediscovers the timeless charms of everyday life in Rome, dodging Italian stallions and eating like a princess, capturing slices of everyday life through the lens of her Panasonic DMC-FZ50. Harmel turns the narrative into a glowing travelogue, a sort of off-the-beaten-path Rome that's enchanting and refreshing. The descriptions of Karina's cooking are mouthwatering, and several recipes mentioned in the book are included: cheese fondue, rice-stuffed tomatoes, Margherita pizza, creamy risotto, and panzanella salad. Most are vegetarian (the risotto calls for chicken broth, but vegetable broth could easily be substituted), all are easy to prepare and perfect for a light summer meal on the patio (or piazza).

    Some of the plot twists were a bit too convenient for my tastes, but overall this is a light summer read that's a perfect escape from daily life full of the sights, sounds, and smells of Italy. Much of the story centers on Roman Holiday (Special Collector's Edition), right down to the cover photo of an attractive brunette with an Audreyesque bob on the back of a Vespa, so if you haven't seen the film, it's the perfect accompaniment, along with a glass of Prosecco. There are romantic elements, but the real story is on Cat's self-discovery and the mystery of her mother. The title is a bit misleading, though; Cat doesn't speak Italian and doesn't really make an attempt to learn to do so.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read!

    This was a great read! I liked the tie-in to Roman Holiday, the movie, and rented it shortly after reading this novel. The main character is flawed, but lovable. She really grows throughout the novel. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a light, but filling read about love, personal growth, and finding your passion on life. A very satisfying read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2009

    Italian For Beginners

    I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and I didn't want to put it down. The writing style was great and enjoyed the characters. It made me want to take a trip to Italy and/or take Italian Language classes. Looking forward to reading more books by Kristin Hamel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2009

    what a lovely book!

    Once I began I couldn't put it down. I am not going to write a long review like the others here, so far. But once I started I couldn't put it down, and I am not a kid, I am 62. It really was a wonderful read, from the very first paragraph. If you are like me, retired and a book lover, order this book!

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ciao Bella

    Italian for Beginners was appealing for many reasons. It was, however, a bit of a departure from her previous work. I felt the story was more deeply emotional than her other novels. Outside of Cat's obvious (and warranted) trust issues she also owns a heaping case of low self-esteem. Moreover, infused throughout the story readers are given insight into the instability of her life via some heavy underlying issues. It's these same issues that play such a significant role in shaping how her relationships with friends, family and potential lovers continue to be formulated and manipulated all the way through her time in Italy and back to the US again.

    None of this is to say there isn't a fair share of comedy and light-heartedness because there is plenty of that too, I wouldn't want to paint Italian For Beginners as a dark or brooding story because it's not. For example, the eclectic group of friends Cat makes during her time in Italy provides an extremely happy place. We also get some good chuckles out of the self-centered and somewhat clueless baby sister. It's just that much of this is not the heart of the story.

    One of the reasons I believe this particular story resonated so deeply with me is that I felt Cat's life, in some respects, mirrored my own. I felt a kinship with her - Harmel wrote an exceptional character that allowed me to feel the vulnerability and pain she was experiencing. I bonded with Cat and I can tell you that does not happen with me often. She is a character that is deeply committed to her family and views herself as the primary caretaker. She takes this role seriously but also to the extreme. While at times certain people worked those traits to their advantage ultimately her family saw how important it was for Cat to strike out and make a life for herself. A life that isn't solely centered around them.

    There wasn't anything in the plot of Cat going to Italy to discover herself that I found unrealistic or particularly cliched. I found her journey to be one of profound self-discovery. More importantly it helped her become a better communicator. She was forced to face a great many truths about herself and her family. In doing so this book went away from the typical formulaic chick lit novel where woman meets man, woman is destined to be with man, then woman and man get together. I mean, don't get me wrong there was a fair share of romance but unlike many books in the genre that aspect took a back seat to the larger emotional issues. As a reader I appreciated that Cat's story wasn't just about chasing men and "oh by the way I discovered myself on the way" plot points. These elements were reversed and on Cat's road to self-discovery she happened to find a man too. I felt it was quite empowering for her and for the reader to know that yes a woman can survive adversity and still get it all in the end. Not only that but she gets it all in a way that (I felt) prioritized the most important aspects of life first. Get your own life in order, love and care for your family and friends (to an extent) and in the end romance will fall into place.

    Speaking of ends falling into place I'm sure you can sense through this review that I encourage you to go out and grab a copy of Italian For Beginners it's an e

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  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not exactly a Roman Holiday

    Italian for Beginners is a story about a woman who flies to Rome to confront her past, and Cat certainly is a flighty character. It was difficult for me to understand the point of her intentions, even as the book progressed. She is described as responsible, but her level of emotional maturity is questionable. She comes off as contradictory, attention starved, (begging for compliments from practically everyone she encounters, including a six year old!), and extremely naive, especially when it comes to her views on relationships between men and women. The story centers heavily around parental issues and her fear of becoming a mother later on in life, but it was her inability to let go of a past break-up from a relationship that only lasted mere months that totally baffled me. Looking back fondly on a former fling or an old flame is relatable - normal, even, but Cat's memory of her time with Francesco is dilusional. Considering her "relationship" with Francesco; the time they've spent apart and how little they have in common, it's both laughable and sad that she could harbor feelings for so long over a man who never loved her (and never claimed to) in the first place. Their final confrontation was utterly confusing as Cat's confessions to Francesco make absolutely no sense, even though the reader is supposed to identify with her "victory" over that particular area in her life.

    This book shares many similarities with Harmel's other novels: The Manhattan/foreign locale; the frumpy, reliable best friend; the dark, handsome heartbreaker, and a self esteem challenged main character that sets off on a journey to find herself. The author tries desperately to give this one depth with it's serious storylines, but the so-called resolutions felt rushed and half-hearted, leaving me wondering about whether or not Cat honestly let go of her past. Not recommended for those looking for a genuine story, (half of it borrows from Roman Holiday), or a character with true heart.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fun book

    This is a cute fun book to read. This novel brought back lots of memories for me. I was thinking of all the good times I had as a teenager on vacation in Italy. Oh do I want to go back and ride the countryside on a Vespa again and eat all that delicious food.
    If you like romance and adventures this is the book for you to read.

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