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Italian Lessons

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Overview

With his trademark warmth, humor, and wisdom, Peter Pezzelli's newest novel weaves an unforgettable tale of Italian-American life and family, hope and heartbreak, lessons learned and lessons deferred, and a love that can heal time's greatest wounds.

ITALIAN LESSONS

Fresh out of college, Carter Quinn has returned to his home in North Providence, Rhode Island, unsure of just about everything except his plans to go to Italy and pursue the woman of...

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Overview

With his trademark warmth, humor, and wisdom, Peter Pezzelli's newest novel weaves an unforgettable tale of Italian-American life and family, hope and heartbreak, lessons learned and lessons deferred, and a love that can heal time's greatest wounds.

ITALIAN LESSONS

Fresh out of college, Carter Quinn has returned to his home in North Providence, Rhode Island, unsure of just about everything except his plans to go to Italy and pursue the woman of his dreams. To do that, he needs to learn to speak Italian, and only one man is right for the job-Giancarlo Rosa.if Carter can survive him.

Giancarlo is nobody's fool. The middle-aged music professor does offer Italian lessons, but only to those who are truly motivated. If Carter wants to learn, he will have to prove himself: lessons three times a week, hours of studying, strict discipline. And there will be no questions about the professor's life-why he hasn't written music in years, why he lives alone, and why he left his homeland in the first place. Carter may see Italy as a land of romance, but Giancarlo knows just what disappointments and betrayals live under the Abruzzo sky. What begins as an apparent mismatch between mentor and student soon blossoms into something deeper-a friendship that carries them into the old country, where forgotten secrets may hold the key to a new lease on life.

Now, in a land of sun, wine, new romance and old wounds, two men will embark on separate, unpredictable journeys that will take them deep into the untraveled places of the heart where everything must be learned.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Pezzelli (Francesca's Kitchen; Every Sunday; etc.), brings his fans a light if sometimes trite story of two lovelorn men who form an unlikely friendship. Recent college graduate Carter Quinn has fallen in love with Elena, a beautiful woman with whom he has had little more than a conversation in which he learned she was from a small town in Italy. Carter has the somewhat unrealistic dream of traveling to Italy to pursue his newfound love. Not knowing the language, Carter turns to Giancarlo Rosa, a local music professor in Providence, R.I., for private Italian lessons, though Giancarlo is leery of taking on Quinn as a student. He does, of course, and Giancarlo's broken heart-the result of a long-ago betrayal-begins slowly to mend itself. After a summer of intense study, Quinn leaves for Italy, and Giancarlo wonders whether he should again allow himself to love. Pezzelli makes readers want to believe in love at first sight, and his earnest storytelling should win over its share of readers. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Italian native Giancarlo Rosa, a professor of music at Rhode Island College, has been living in self-imposed exile for 30 years. A bachelor weighed down by his past, he can no longer write music or perform in public. When a college grad approaches him for summer Italian lessons, the reluctant professor recognizes and is won over by the student's motive: lovestruck Carter Quinn wants to learn the language to track down an Italian girl he met briefly. Carter proves to be an excellent student and by summer's end finds himself in Italy, where, as part of his quest, he has agreed to do a favor for his teacher. What follows, however, will turn both his and the professor's world upside down. Novelist Pezzelli (Francesca's Kitchen; Home to Italy) tells an engaging story that is as leisurely paced and satisfying as a fine Italian meal. Readers will enjoy the relationship that develops between student and teacher and savor the transformations of dreams and disappointments. Recommended for all popular fiction collections.
—Ron Terpening

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758220509
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 683,415
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Italian Lessons


By PETER PEZZELLI

KENSINGTON BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 Peter Pezzelli
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-2050-9


Chapter One

Had he chanced to glance out his office window just a few minutes before noon, Professor Giancarlo Rosa might have seen, off in the distance, a solitary figure making his way across the near-deserted campus of Rhode Island College. It was the last week of May; commencement had already come and gone, and most of the faculty, save for those teaching a summer course, had vanished along with the students. The few laggards, Rosa among them, were busy collecting their things, finishing up last-minute paperwork, and doing whatever other odds and ends that required completion before staff members could escape to their own summer retreats. With no immediate plans for his vacation, and nothing particularly urgent on his agenda for the day, the professor of music was in no great hurry, so at the moment he was sitting at his computer, perusing the online edition of Il Centro, an Italian newspaper. Behind him a recording of Clementi sonatinas played on a little CD player atop the filing cabinet-or more precisely, atop a stack of papers, manuscripts, books, and other paraphernalia that teetered precariously atop the cabinet.

As absorbed in his reading as he was at the moment, the world outside his window held little interest for him. Not that it would havemattered even if he had just then taken a notion to look outdoors. Had he caught a glimpse of the person off in the distance, a young man of twenty-two years, Rosa would most likely have taken little note of him. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the young man's appearance that would have caught his attention, no immediate indication that his journey across campus was tending in any definitive way toward the building in which Rosa sat, and certainly nothing to convey any augury that his path and that of the professor would very soon intersect.

For his part, the young man strode across the campus with an air of great purpose, though with a slight but perceptible limp, the remnant of an unfortunate though not terribly serious mishap on the rugby pitch some weeks earlier. His ankle had been unceremoniously stomped on while he lay defenseless on the ground at the bottom of a ruck, a pile of players struggling to obtain possession of the ball. The injury had not yet completely healed-every step was a small reminder of the incident-yet he took little notice of it. He was in a hurry, and the small discomfort was of little concern. Not completely certain of the exact location of his ultimate destination-the building housing the college's music department-he paused as he passed the soccer field and track oval, and gazed ahead at the cluster of structures before him to get his bearings.

It was a warm, pleasant day with just the hint of a breeze whispering across the grounds, nudging the light brown hair hanging down over the young man's brow. Above, the brilliant blue of the noonday sky was unbroken save for a smattering of puffy white clouds gathering on the horizon far away to the west. It was the type of day best given to lounging beneath a shady tree, or perhaps taking an excursion to the beach or enjoying some other form of outdoor recreation, but the young man had more serious pursuits on his mind. He oriented himself toward what he felt certain was the appropriate building and continued on.

By the time the young man reached the side entrance to the building, ascended the stairs to the third floor, and poked his head out into the corridor to ascertain whether he had come to the right place, Rosa had already turned away from his computer. The professor was now standing at his desk, collecting into stacks the various papers and notebooks he intended to take with him. Two of these he gathered into his hands and dropped into a cardboard box destined for the backseat of his car. Taking the box into his arms, he turned and walked headlong out of his office door just as the young man, who had followed the lively strains of the piano music down the corridor, was about to walk in. Only the agility of the young man, who managed to twist himself to the side at the last moment, saved the two from colliding.

Taking little notice of the newcomer, now pressed against the wall, Rosa muttered a perfunctory apology as he squeezed by, consolidated his grip on the box, and started on his way down the corridor.

"Professor Rosa?"

Rosa stopped and turned around, wondering if perhaps he had inadvertently ignored a student from the semester just passed. His students occasionally stopped by his office for one reason or another before heading home for the summer-though usually well before this late date-but, he realized, this young man was not one of them. Dressed as he was in shorts and sneakers and an oversized polo shirt bearing the insignia of some club or team, he looked like any other student Rosa might have encountered on campus, but his face was unfamiliar. He was a sturdy sort, Rosa noted, with a thick neck and rugged shoulders. An athlete, no doubt, but there were many on campus, and Rosa paid little attention to sports.

"Yes?" he finally said, eyeing the young man skeptically.

"Excuse me, you don't know me, Professor Rosa," he said in a respectful but urgent voice, "but my name is Carter, Carter Quinn. I was wondering-that is, if you had just a minute-if I could talk to you."

"Well, Carter, Carter Quinn, you've already started talking," Rosa noted with a bit of acerbity, which his foreign accent had a way of accentuating, "so I suppose whether or not I have a minute is now a moot point."

"Actually," said the young man with a sheepish smile, "it's just Carter Quinn. You know, one 'Carter,' not two."

"You should learn to speak more precisely."

"Well, in a way, that's why I'm here."

"Really?" said Rosa. "And how might that be?"

"I want to learn how to speak Italian."

"You're in the wrong place," Rosa told him. "This is the music department. The foreign language department is in the next building over."

"Actually, I called them already this morning," said Carter. "They're not offering any introductory classes this summer. But the woman I spoke with-I think her name was Patricia-she said I should try getting in touch with you before you left for the summer. She told me that you come from Italy and that sometimes you give private Italian lessons, so I took a chance that I'd find you here. I would have called first, but she said not to bother because you almost never check your voice mail."

"Hmm," Rosa grunted. "That sounds just like Patricia."

"Then it's true, you do give lessons," said Carter.

"Yes, sometimes I give lessons," Rosa admitted, somewhat impatiently. "Sometimes, but not always-and not to just any stranger who walks through the door, I'm afraid."

"I never really made it through the door," Carter observed. "Does that help?"

"Not really," Rosa replied. "Forgive me, my friend, but I don't think I'll be giving any lessons this summer. If you look around, perhaps in the yellow pages, I'm sure you'll be able to find someone who can help you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm a little busy at the moment."

With that the professor turned and continued on his way down the corridor to the stairwell and out to his car. Looking up into the sky as he crossed the parking lot, Rosa took in the warmth of the sun and the touch of the soft breeze. He had not realized just how lovely a day it had turned into. That morning, he had brought with him a bagged lunch, intending to eat it at his desk while he finished his work. Now, breathing in the warm, pleasant air, the idea of taking a few minutes to enjoy his meal outdoors seemed to him a much better option. He stowed the box in the backseat of his car and headed back to his office.

To his surprise, when Rosa climbed the stairs and stepped out into the corridor, he found Carter Quinn sitting on the floor outside his office. Seeing the professor approach, Carter jumped to his feet, an apologetic but hopeful expression coming to his face.

"I still haven't walked through the door," he said, nodding to the office.

His arms crossed, Rosa shot him a look of consternation. "Mister Carter-"

"Um, Quinn," he said, clearing his throat.

"I beg your pardon."

"It's Mister Quinn," he said affably, "but of course you can call me Carter."

"Mister Quinn, who are you? Are you a student here at the college?"

"No," Carter explained with a shake of his head. "Actually, I live in North Providence, just a little ways up the street off campus. But I just graduated from UNH last week."

"New Hampshire seems like a long way to go to obtain an education when you have a perfectly fine college right next door," Rosa pointed out. "Pardon me."

Rosa stepped past him and into his office. His back to the door, he went to his desk and continued organizing his papers.

"Just needed a change of scenery, I guess," said Carter with a shrug, lingering outside the door. "It's a nice place."

"So I've heard," said Rosa with an air of detachment. He hoped that an attitude of indifference on his part would discourage the younger man and entice him to go on his way. Undaunted, however, Carter stood there, lingering in the corridor just outside the door. His persistence piqued Rosa's curiosity, and so, against his better judgment, for he had no intention of changing his mind on the matter of the Italian lessons, the professor said, "And what did you study there in New Hampshire, Mister Quinn?"

"Financial management."

"And for what purpose?"

"Purpose?" Carter said. "I don't know. I guess because I want a career in business."

"A career in business," repeated Rosa with a mildly derisive laugh. "That's like saying you want a career in breathing. What is it that you truly want to do with your life?"

A moment passed before Carter replied. "I dunno," he finally admitted. "I'm working on that one."

"After four years of college, you're still working on it? What were you doing all that time? Daydreaming?" said Rosa. He looked back over his shoulder and nodded at the insignia on Carter's shirt. "I'm guessing you are an athlete, yes?"

"I played football," said Carter with another shrug. "And some rugby in the spring."

"A scholar athlete," Rosa noted, turning back to his desk again. "Tell me, which were you more of, the former or the latter?"

"I studied pretty hard ... sometimes," he answered, sounding less than convincing, and even less convinced. "But sports were important to me, too, I guess."

"Sports often are to people," said Rosa with a sigh. "Too important in my opinion, but in your case I suppose I could understand why. Financial management doesn't sound like the stuff to stir one's academic passions."

"Seemed like a good idea at the time."

"And why are you coming to me now?" asked Rosa. "Didn't they have any Italian courses at your university for you to take?"

"Oh, sure they did," said Carter. "But it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I decided to take a trip to Italy sometime this summer."

"I see. And just what was it that inspired you to do that?"

At this question the young man grew ill at ease. He shifted his stance and looked down at his feet.

"It's hard to explain," he said after a time.

"Try."

"Well, it's just that lately I've become really interested in Italian culture," he offered. "I'd like to learn more about it, so I thought studying the language would be the best place to start."

At this pronouncement, Rosa paused and looked once more over his shoulder, eyeing the young man with a look of bemusement. He chuckled to himself as he turned around and leaned back against the edge of the desk, his arms folded.

"So tell me," he said in a far gentler voice than he had thus far used to address the young man, "what was her name?"

"What do you mean?" said Carter, his face reddening.

"Please, Mister Quinn," said the professor with a dismissive wave of his hand, "let's not play games. When and if I agree to invest my time in teaching, I do it only for people who I believe are truly motivated. Otherwise it's a waste of my time and their money. Now I know some might construe what I'm about to say to you as less than politically correct, but when a young woman comes to me and tells me that she wants to learn to speak Italian because she is interested in studying Italian culture, I usually believe that this is her true intention, because more often than not, this is truly the case. On the other hand, when someone such as yourself comes to me and says that he wants to speak Italian because he is interested in studying Italian culture, more often than not what he is really interested in studying is an Italian woman. So, Mister Carter, Carter Quinn, I'll ask you again. What was her name?"

A long pause ensued. From what Rosa could see from the pained look on his face, the young man was feverishly turning the question over and over in his mind. At last he dropped his arms to his side and heaved a weary sigh, as if all the energy that had driven him to that place had suddenly left him.

"Elena," he finally said, speaking the name in an almost reverential voice.

"Elena," Rosa repeated upon hearing this confession. "A beautiful name. I trust it belongs to a beautiful young lady."

"Very," Carter murmured. Then, squirreling up the side of his mouth, he sighed again and added, "How did you know? I mean, is it that obvious?"

"How did I know?" scoffed Rosa, throwing his hands up. "Tell me, what is it that drives a man to leave his home and seek his fortune? Hmm? What is it that makes him want to conquer the world? What is it that finally roots a man in one place, or that can just as easily uproot him in the blink of an eye? What makes him come and go? My friend, for better or worse, it's always a woman. Trust me. It is just one of the simple facts of life."

"Yeah, well, I don't know how simple all of this is," muttered Quinn.

Rosa stood there for a moment, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, before gesturing to the chair across from his desk. "Sit," he told him, "and tell me how you came to know this Elena."

Surprised that his confession had brought him an invitation into the professor's office instead of immediate ejection from his presence, Carter stepped tentatively inside and sat down in the chair.

"Where do I begin?" he said disconsolately.

"Begin at the beginning," suggested Rosa. "Tell me about how you first met, or better yet, how it was that you first saw her."

"That's easy," said Carter, looking past Rosa with a faraway gaze. "I can remember it like it was a minute ago. It was during a rugby match over in Newport-the New England collegiate tournament. I was carrying the ball, and when I got tackled I ended up flat on my back, trapped at the bottom of a ruck. There must have been ten guys on top of me, all fighting for the ball, and one of them, probably one of my own teammates, had his knee jammed into my midsection. So besides getting crushed, I could barely breathe. I tried screaming, but nothing came out. It was like being born. I was in agony, and I thought it would never end, but then the ball suddenly came loose and everyone unpiled, leaving me there on the ground while they all ran down the field. I sat up to catch my breath, and I was just about to pick myself up and go running down the field after them when I saw her standing there on the sidelines, looking straight at me, smiling."

"What did you notice about her?" asked Rosa, studying the young man's expression.

"Everything," said Carter dreamily, reliving the moment in his mind. "But not just about her. All of a sudden it was like time had stopped, and I became aware of all these things I never bothered to notice before. How sweet the grass smelled, and how soft it was. How warm the sun felt on my face, and how colorful the uniforms of the players and the clothes of all the people on the sidelines looked. And how beautiful the sky and the clouds were, and how the trees swayed in the wind. It was like everything suddenly came into sharp focus. And Elena was right there in the middle of it all."

"What did she look like?"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Italian Lessons by PETER PEZZELLI Copyright © 2007 by Peter Pezzelli. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    Enjoyed it!

    Unlike other reviewers, I actually read the book. It was very enjoyable. The author has a gift of painting vivid characters and weaving a good story. It is light-hearted and as satisfying as a cannoli after a nice meal.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    Predictable

    It was a quick, easy read but so predictable. This was the first book I've read by this author. Not sure I'd try another.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    NOT HIS BEST WORK

    I loved Every Sunday and Francesca's Kitchen and wanted to read this one too. Debated after 50 pages if I wanted to finish it and I didn't since it was boring me to death. It was a disappointment after his others which were so enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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