The Italian Party

The Italian Party

by Christina Lynch

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Overview

The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

One of the Wall Street Journal's "Six More Books to Read This Winter" "Required Reading," The New York Post Library Journal's "Spring/Summer Bests" of 2018 A Sonoma Index-Tribune Bestseller One of CrimeReads' "Debuts to Discover Spring 2018"

"Deeply funny." —The New York Times Book Review podcast

"[A] sweltering thriller set against the backdrop of what is probably your dream getaway destination: Tuscany." Bustle

"Tremendous fun! Wives with big secrets, husbands with bigger ones, swirling around a 1950s Siena teeming with seduction and spycraft." Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Travelers

"Seeing the "antiquated" culture of postwar/Cold War Italy through the eyes of Americans, obsessed with modern convenience and progress, sort of mirrors my Italy to America transition in a fun way—plus there are spies! Affairs! and lot of food!!" Giada De Laurentiis

"Imagine Beautiful Ruins plus horses; Toujours Provence with spies, a mystery and sex. The Italian Party is a fizzy, page-turning delight that begs for a Campari and soda!" Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me

“I’ve always wanted to take a trip to Italy in the 1950’s and The Italian Party is my ticket. Like the best Italian paintings, this smart and funny book deftly combines the light and the dark. Christina Lynch’s prose pairs well with any hearty Tuscan red.Conan O'Brien

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250147837
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 122,666
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Christina Lynch’s picaresque journey includes chapters in Chicago and at Harvard, where she was an editor on the Harvard Lampoon. She was the Milan correspondent for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and disappeared for four years in Tuscany. In L.A. she was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After; Encore, Encore; The Dead Zone and Wildfire. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. She is the co-author of two novels under the pen name Magnus Flyte. She teaches at College of the Sequoias. The Italian Party is her debut novel under her own name.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

LA LUPA, THE WOLF

"FROM ROME THE COAT OF ARMS, FROM SIENA THE HONOR"

TUSCANY, APRIL 25, 1956

1.

Newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Michael Messina drove down the Via Cassia from Florence, he at the wheel, she with the map. The car was brand-new, a two-tone Ford Fairlane in canary yellow and white, headlights gazing into the future, the only car of its kind in all of Italy. It was twice the size of the tiny, drab little Italian matchboxes they were passing, like an eagle amidst starlings.

A young girl bicycling home from school along the side of the road, a woman selling wild asparagus at the pullout, a man tying down grapevines who was stretching his back as they sailed past — they could do nothing but stare, mouths agape, then shake their heads. Americani. It was like they came from another planet.

It had been eleven years since the end of war in Europe. Most Italians just wanted to forget and move on. Rebuilding was well under way, yet the scars of war were still evident everywhere, in every sense, if you knew where to look. Milan, for example, had been nearly leveled, but with great practicality the Milanese had bulldozed all of the debris into a neat, enormous pile on the outskirts of the city, covered it with dirt, nicknamed it "the Little Mountain," and built a new city center. Naples distracted itself with Sophia Loren. In central Italy, the scene of much heavy fighting as the Germans reluctantly retreated up the peninsula, many chose to leave rather than rebuild, so that ghostly ruins were being slowly swallowed by nature, half an ivy-covered arch here, a fig tree growing through a cracked tile roof there, stone walls crumbling under the claws of rampant, unruly caper bushes.

"Don't you wish," the wife said, tracing her finger along the edge of the car window, "that when you met someone, you could see the story of his or her life? Fast, like a quick little movie, you know?"

"That sounds awful," said her husband, teasing. "I don't want people to see me picking my nose in fourth grade."

"No," she insisted, "it would be just the most important events, the ones that have shaped who they are. So you could really know them."

"Still not signing up," he said. They passed a dilapidated blue bus, every face inside turned to watch them, wide-eyed.

"Really? Don't you think it would help us all get along better? Understand each other better?"

"Like if I saw Stalin's childhood puppy getting run over I would have liked him better? Don't think so."

She blushed. "I guess you're right."

As the car zoomed down the road, Scottie took it all in, her eyes hungry for a new landscape, a fresh start. She reminded herself that it was better that Michael couldn't see the story of her life. He would never have married her. But she would like to see his — there was so much about him she didn't know. In fact, she really didn't know much about him at all. Where to even begin?

"Did you have your teeth straightened?" she asked.

2.

Michael and Scottie stood out from the moment they strolled down the gangplank of the sleek ocean liner that carried them and their possessions to Italy. They seemed to have stepped right out of an advertisement for Betty Crocker, Wonder Bread or capitalism itself. He was twenty-four, handsome, always in a nicely cut suit, camera around his neck. She, barely twenty, was a knockout. Blond, pretty, quick to laugh, always in an elegant hat and pearl choker. She had what the Italians call raffinatezza, a word that covers everything that is the opposite of vulgar — a quality Italians deeply aspired to, while at the same time remaining powerless to resist anything gilded, mirrored, shiny or bejeweled. This spring the papers were full of the marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, and it was as if Siena's own version of the royal couple had arrived. Even though there were other Americans coming and going in Siena, those two would become the Americans. Gli americani. Both of them so young, healthy, wealthy and in love. They seemed so free. That was how they seemed.

They were arriving in Siena as part of a wave of missionaries bringing the American way of life to what they were certain would be a grateful populace.

Michael felt like he'd won the lottery. This beautiful creature had agreed to marry him and come on a foreign adventure. A Vassar girl, from a good family out in California! Him just a boy from the Bronx! And the best part was, she wasn't that smart. Because that's what Michael wanted. What he needed. Someone who wasn't too curious. Someone who would mistake his version of things for the truth.

The Italians would take them at face value, see only what they were meant to see. As a culture the Italians valued furbizia — slyness — more than honesty, but they would not expect to find it in Americans, who were generally seen as genial idiots ripe for the plucking. It was only natural for Michael and Scottie to make assumptions about each other, too. They had known each other just a short time, and no courtship is entirely honest. It was convenient for Michael that Scottie had been taught that asking questions — as long as they were not too personal, or impertinent — rather than offering opinions made a man feel like he was being listened to, and supported. She had been taught that a woman likes to feel beautiful, and a man likes to feel superior.

That was what she had been taught.

That was what he believed she had learned.

3.

The Fairlane leapt over potholes that threatened to eat the smaller Italian cars.

"You know, this road's been here since Julius Caesar's time," said Michael.

"Tell me about Caesar," said Scottie. "Would he get along with Eisenhower, you think?"

He stretched his arm along the seatback and tickled her neck, as if she were a small dog. "Well, they could sure swap ideas about building highways," said Michael, who enjoyed retreating into history when the present felt too threatening, which was much of the time. Behind the movie-star-handsome dark brows, strong, masculine nose and square chin, he was a nervous fellow, still the schoolboy who had compensated for his social insecurity by doing well in school. The classroom, in fact, was the only place he had ever felt at home. "Caesar had his legions lay these stones by hand to a depth of four feet, which is deeper than Ike's crews are building the new interstates." Michael had told her that within a few years, Americans would be able to drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific without waiting at a single stoplight. Michael had told her that the Italians were using some of the billion dollars that America had given them to rebuild after the war for high-speed roads here, too. Michael had told her a lot of things. She hoped there wasn't going to be a quiz. The classroom was the last place Scottie ever felt comfortable. Letters and words on a page were a jumbled code she struggled to decipher. No one had ever told her that she had dyslexia. Her teachers assumed she was stupid, and so did she, unable to see that her ability to adapt to almost any situation with good humor was a greater asset than any PhD.

"A new highway's going to come right through here. It'll put this place on the map. No more donkey carts," he said as he swerved around one.

"I love the donkeys." She waved to the lop-eared donkey and the woman leading it, who glared at her and made a gesture. Michael didn't see it, so Scottie said, "What does this mean?" and Michael looked at her, a little shocked, and laughed nervously.

"Where did you see that?" he asked.

"Is it rude?"

"Very. I wouldn't do that again."

She laughed, and he laughed with her. Neither of them would ever sink so low as to make rude gestures!

The car rat-a-tatted over the old basalt stones underneath its mighty wheels. The green fields they passed were dotted with red poppies. Scottie spotted distant villas tucked into greenery, her eye drawn to the occasional gray or pair of bays grazing in an olive grove.

"Nice," she said. "Not thoroughbreds, but well put together, though." She looked over at Michael. "We should go riding sometime." She pictured them galloping along side by side over these lovely green hills. That was what she would do if her best friend, Leona, were here with her. She and Leona always had fun together. Couldn't marriage be like that?

4.

As they came around a curve, Siena suddenly appeared above them, a walled fortress city perched on a leafy green hilltop, terraces of tan brick and stone buildings with dark red terra-cotta roofs underneath an immense cupola, and the black and white Cheshire cat stripes of the Duomo's prickly bell tower jutting up into a clear blue sky.

"I think you're going to like it here," Michael said. "Siena's a very interesting place. It was on an ancient religious route, so it became wealthy, cultured and powerful, thanks to all those foreigners and their money passing through. The world's first bank was born here — Monte dei Paschi di Siena, in 1472. Before Columbus even set sail!"

"You know everything," she teased.

"You'll like this," he said. "The stripes symbolize the black and white horses of the legendary founders of the city, Senius and his brother Aschius."

Michael did not mind that Scottie was obsessed with horses. He had no intention of ever trusting his own life to a thousand-pound animal with a brain the size of a walnut. But it was a charming, aristocratic quality in her. An expensive habit for sure, but she came with enough money to support it.

"It looks so old, like something from a fairy tale."

Yes, he thought, childlike. She's childlike. He saw that as a good thing. It made him even fonder of her. She needed to be taken care of. "I don't want to pry," he said. "But it may be difficult to manage your money from overseas. Did you make arrangements with your bank? It can be complicated, and I'm happy to help."

Scottie blushed and turned wide blue eyes on him. "I don't have any money," she said. She blinked, and there was an awkward moment of silence. "Did you think I did?"

5.

Now he knows, she thought. He stared back at her for a moment, his sleek sealskin eyebrows raised, then looked out the windshield and laughed to himself in a way she found hard to interpret.

The road narrowed as it zigzagged steeply up to the city.

The beauty of their marriage was that she, too, at the moment of saying "I do" felt like she had won the lottery. A Yale man. Handsome. And not some frat-boy bruiser either — Michael was sensitive, with an artistic soul. He was compassionate, having endured the tragedy of losing his brother in the war. True, he was not wealthy — yet. But he was ambitious and hardworking, so success was sure to follow. He had a good job with Ford, that most solid of companies. This was the age when every American family was for the first time buying a car or two, and as Michael had told her, Eisenhower was building interstates so that Americans could go see this land their loved ones had laid down their lives defending. Scottie felt that with Michael, she was literally going places. And fortunately, those places were across the Atlantic, where no one would ask too many questions.

6.

"With the plague came depopulation and poverty, poverty led to military weakness, military weakness led to the city being conquered by its loathed rival city-state Florence, which led to humiliation and more poverty." They were climbing through olive groves toward the city now. He steered around another donkey cart, this one piled high with firewood.

"That little guy could sure use a pedicure," she said, craning her head to study the poor beast's hoofs in the rearview mirror.

So she didn't have money. He had to admit that was a surprise. He ran over their conversations in his head. Had she lied to him? No. He had made assumptions. Father in oranges in California. Vassar. Nice clothes. Friends with the DuPont girl. She must mean she didn't have money yet. There would be a trust fund for her. Perhaps it came later, when she turned twenty-five or thirty. It was fine — she was still perfect. Nearly perfect.

Michael felt an urgent need to make her understand the importance of everything they were seeing. How it got this way. How bad things were, but how much better they would soon be. He wanted her to share his love of history.

"Except for the bank, which did fine, Siena pretty much limped into the twentieth century as a market town for poor sharecroppers growing subsistence crops in a not particularly fertile zone of heavy clay soil, vicious mosquitoes and baking summer heat."

"Baking summer heat. Got it." She smiled at a little girl on a red bicycle, who stared back at her wide-eyed, as if she were watching a spaceship float past.

"The rest of Italy refers to Tuscans as maledetti, damned, trapped here as if in hell." He pointed off to the left. "Other than the train station over there, which was decimated, even the Allies pretty much ignored Siena as they bombed their way north, chasing the Germans out of Tuscany."

She glanced over at him. On the roof at Vassar the night he proposed he told her that his brother Marco had been killed at Monte Cassino in 1944. Michael, the youngest of their parents' six children, was only twelve at the time. He didn't seem to want to say more about it then. She wondered if he would now, but he went on blithely. "I saw a picture in an old issue of Life. The Allies paused their tanks in Piazza del Campo just long enough for a photo op before they moved on to more important targets."

"But they like us, right? The Italians?"

"Oh yes," he said. "They love us."

They came to a stop at an intersection with about twenty signs pointing in all different directions. "It says to enter the city at Porta Camollia," she said, deciphering the directions.

"Sì, signora," he said with a confident smile. He piloted the Ford Fairlane under the arched gate in the massive city walls, and they motored slowly down Via Banchi di Sopra, a crowd of curious and excited children gathering behind them as if they were movie stars. Scottie looked up at the laundry festooning the narrow streets and said, "These women are going to be so happy when they have dryers."

"And televisions," said Michael. "I heard everyone goes to the corner bar when they want to watch something, and there's only one channel."

"I can't believe they still breastfeed their children," said Scottie.

They shook their heads at how sadly backward things were here. But help was on the way!

7.

"Left here," Scottie said, squinting at the property manager's foreign scrawl. There was something about the city being divided into three parts, terzi, but which part were they in now?

They turned, she believed, onto Via di Città, but it wasn't. It was some other street, which led to an alley. There were no signs. Suddenly her map seemed all wrong, a threatening labyrinth. They turned around, barely, Michael red-faced, the tendons in his neck standing out. She shrank down in her seat, ashamed and a little frightened, as he roared up the narrow street past a laughing old man in a tattered black hat and took a sharp right onto —

"Wait," Scottie yelped, madly searching the map. "I'm not sure that's —"

"It must go somewhere," Michael snarled. Her genial husband was gone, replaced by — who was this man?

Scottie looked up from the map to see brick walls narrowing and arching over them. The sky disappeared and they were plunged into semidarkness. She couldn't understand how he thought the car was going to fit.

"I think it's the other way, Prince," she said gaily.

"Well, I can't back up," he snapped, and she was quiet. They inched forward, the web of laundry lines seeming to get lower and lower over them, and the walls closer and closer, until ... crunch.

The eagle was firmly lodged between two brick walls.

Michael hit the accelerator hard, but only produced a horrible noise and a smell of burning rubber. He put it in reverse, but got the same result. He smacked the steering wheel with his palms. His formerly beautiful mouth was set in an angry, ugly line.

We're strangers, she realized.

They couldn't get out of the car. They had to sit there, avoiding each other's eyes, waiting for help.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Italian Party"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Christina Lynch.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Epigraph,
Part One: Terzo di Camollia,
One: La Lupa, the Wolf,
Two: Il Bruco, the Caterpillar,
Three: Il Drago, the Dragon,
Four: L'Istrice, the Porcupine,
Five: La Giraffa, the Giraffe,
Six: Oca, the Goose,
Intermezzo,
Part Two: Terzo di CittÃ,
Seven: L'Onda, the Wave,
Eight: La Selva, the Forest,
Nine: L'Aquila, the Eagle,
Intermezzo,
Ten: La Tartuca, the Tortoise,
Eleven: La Chiocciola, the Snail,
Twelve: La Pantera, the Panther,
Part Three: Terzo di San Martino,
Thirteen: Il Leocorno, the Unicorn,
Fourteen: Il Nicchio, the Shell,
Fifteen: La Civetta, the Owl,
Sixteen: Il Valdimontone, the Ram,
Seventeen: La Torre, the Tower,
Part Four: Le Contrade Soppresse,
Eighteen: Il Gallo, the Rooster,
Nineteen: Il Leone, the Lion,
Twenty: La Vipera, the Viper,
Twenty-One: L'Orso, the Bear,
Twenty-Two: La Quercia, the Oak Tree,
Twenty-Three: La Spadaforte, the Sword,
Acknowledgments,
About the Author,
Copyright,

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The Italian Party 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’m an avid reader and have been disappointed in many “highly rated “ books lately. This book was a refreshing break from the recent disappointments. Honest and compassionate with intrigue. I could smell the bread and the flowers! A great story and storyteller.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Christina Lynch takes her audience on an adventure to the Italian countryside in her debut novel, The Italian Party. Newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina begin their lives as husband and wife far from the familiarity of their homeland, America. The year is 1956 and the place is Siena, Italy. Their marriage is built on a foundation of secretes. Michael believes Scottie is a privileged debutante and comes from fine stock and family wealth. Granted, Scottie did grow up with the finer things in life—private boarding schools, followed by an equally prestigious degree from Vassar, but maybe the family wealth wasn’t quite what it used to be. Michael, on the other hand, was a kid from the Bronx. Fortunately, Michael rose above humble beginnings. He was smart—very smart and fortunately, Scottie wasn’t. She was the perfect bride for him given his line of work. So how did this young couple end up lightyears away from their homeland? According to Michael, he landed the job of a lifetime. He was hired to be the Ford Motor Tractor Company’s esteemed representation in Italy. The war had ended in Europe a mere eleven years prior. It was important for America to maintain a presence in the wake of the remnants the Germans had left behind. What Michael failed to explain to Scottie was this great job was little more than a cover for his real job: the CIA. His true purpose in whisking his new bride away to the lovely Tuscan countryside was to play a significant role in persuading the upcoming election’s outcome to that of democracy. Scottie loves Michael—especially his breathtaking good looks. They are the signature American couple—she with her gorgeous blonde hair and him with his swarthy good looks. While there is a definite adjustment period for the two initially, Scottie learns how to blend in with the locals—perhaps a bit too much, while Michael immerses himself further into the spy versus spy life he willingly signed onto. What the two couldn’t possibly know is just when everything seems to be falling into place, chaos is lurking around the corner awaiting their arrival. How fitting for Christina Lynch to spin a tale of romance, politics and the ever-looming threat of communism for today’s audience to gobble up. This is a story of delicious action and adventure, sprinkled with the perfect balance of romance throughout. Ms. Lynch has a wonderful ability to set a scene and solidify the allure with crisp and believable dialogue. This may be her debut novel, but the writing portrays a seasoned veteran from beginning to end. The development of unique personalities showcases the uniqueness of each of her characters; paving the way for her audience to bond with each one. She is also keen to note the dynamics between husband and wife and particularly, the woman’s role in the late 50’s which anchors the relevance of the story even more. Bravo Ms. Lynch. This was a fun read with great twists and turns along the way. Quill says: The Italian Party is an adventure that reaches far beyond the notion of a ‘party.’
Anonymous 10 months ago
Different
Anonymous 10 months ago
What a delight! Set in 1956 Siena around the Palio, many-faceted human drama, political and cultural intrigue, satisfying, memorable read.
Laeljeanne 10 months ago
Scottie married Michael and they moved to Siena, Italy, both bringing secrets and gathering more, so that they appear to be a happily married couple, he selling American tractors to Italians and she his adoring housewife. Showing Italians the American Dream fulfills a larger agenda for Michael, while Scottie tries to look behind the curtain and see his true self. She seems to have a lot more freedom than expected for a woman in the mid-50s, and Italian men are portrayed as oversexed political creatures. Homosexuality is handled in a sensitive, if somewhat stereotypical, manner considering the times—adultery is inexplicably given more tolerance. When the couple open up and confess all, they become a team, and Michael learns that political secrets are larger than his own agenda, gobsmacked by his own company. This is a great historical fiction, with Siennese culture, the fallout from being overshadowed by Florence, and the political turmoil of Communism versus pro-Western leaders vividly portrayed. It shows the complexities of the world players’ motives and relationships, and how this plays out in the individual lives of the Italian people. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this wonderful book from the publisher through NetGalley.
Sheila Lee More than 1 year ago
I am really on the fence about this book. There was humor and drama in a setting of post WWII Italy. At times I felt lost in the history of this time period and kept asking myself "Is this the way it really was, did this really happen, did the author take historical license?" Personally, the book was hard for me to get in to because so much of it was based on American foreign policy, which has always been muddy at best. The characters were interesting but IMHO the plot was too convoluted.
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Picturesque, insightful, and delightfully winsome! The Italian Party is an immersive story that takes you back to Siena, Italy during the mid-1950s when The Cold War was still influencing Italian politics, Communism was rampant, spies were everywhere, and in this tale newly married American couple Michael and Scottie have just arrived with glamour, high-tech gadgets, and an abundance of secrets. The prose is eloquent and atmospheric. The characterization is exceptionally well drawn with a whole slew of characters that are colourful, affable, and quirky. And the plot is an intriguing mix of spy thriller, romance, and comedy, that's full of life, love, self-discovery, deception, betrayal, grief, friendship, antics, and community. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started The Italian Party but it wasn’t long before Lynch swept me away in a debut that's mysterious, informative, and witty and gave me a beautiful picture postcard of the history, landmarks, culture, and culinary fare of a country she obviously loves and knows well.
Aqswr More than 1 year ago
Nothing is as it appears in THE ITALIAN PARTY, as a pair of newlyweds arrive in Italy, ostensibly for the husband to open a new Ford sales office. The couple met and married quickly, each for their own secretive reasons that they have withheld from their partner. Over the course of this book, these secrets will by turns cause them grief, worry and perhaps, a chance of happiness. The book takes place in the mid-1950s and the Cold War is in full force. A missing teenager sets a series of events in motion that swirl through the newlyweds’ lives and local politics against the backdrop of the rise of the Soviet Union. This is a warm and engaging book that is a delight to read. I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
DJTP More than 1 year ago
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch, a new to me author. Took me awhile to get into this book. I enjoyed the romance and setting of Italy in this book. It wasn't what I expected. A story of lies, secrets, hidden romance and set in the 1950's.
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch Starts out with Scottie and her new husband Michael as they are traveling through Italy towards their new house. They have relocated to Italy and Michael will sell tractors. He works at Ford but we also learn other hidden screts about him. Story also follows Scottie and her past life and her hidden secrets. Love descriptions of the landscape and people and history as they drive along. To arrive and have nothing there I don't know what I'd do myself. When the characters are talking in Italian there are Englsih translations so you are not lost. Robertino is employed by Michael to help him spy on his wife and others. He also takes Scottie around the town aclimating her to the locale. Lots of action, horses, adventure and mysteries. Just when you think the secrets are out there are more hidden. Sexual scenes and some swearing. Lots of different plots in this book, easy to keep track of them and I found it interesting to learn of things from so long ago. Resources quoted at the end. Recieved this review copy via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.
TheGrumpyBookReviewer More than 1 year ago
The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch, carries a title that is a bit of a double entendre, for it refers to both the party atmosphere of life around the piazza, and the power struggle that is party politics in postwar Italy. The Italian Party is a commentary on the legacy of war, no matter on which side you stand. It is 1956. Newlyweds, Michael and Scottie, are in love with Tuscany's incredible beauty even more than they love each other. They each have their own secrets that carry them along differing paths such that they view Italy, and even America, as well as each other, far differently. Scottie, a very sheltered and mostly innocent young woman, quickly discovers her own dark side as she is drawn into the seductiveness of some of the local men, and begins to question her view of the world. At Michael's request, Robertson, a local teenager, begins teaching Italian to Scottie, then mysteriously disappears. As Scottie tries to assist in the search for him, she and Michael become suspects in his disappearance. Michael's dream is to teach art history. Instead, he has been recruited and sent to Italy to help prevent communism from gaining a foothold in that country, with the pretext of opening a Ford tractor dealership. He quickly learns he is a pawn in a game much larger than himself. He, too, struggles with his own life choices, and the differences with which he was born. After a brief separation, Michael and Scottie find their way back to each other, but only after sharing their most closely held secrets about themselves. They must come to terms not only with their own lives, but also with what they have learned about America's postwar activities in Europe. The Italian Party is full of spies, mouthwatering descriptions of food, a little sex, glamorous people, even horse races. While I would not call it a page-turner, I would call it an eye opener. I did enjoy it, and I learned a lot, and was reminded of the fact that countries have been interfering with other countries' politics for generations. Lynch's The Italian Party is due out March 20, 2018.
byrstn More than 1 year ago
This is a 2-star book for me. The first few chapters caught my interest, but by the time the appliances were delivered to the couple’s new house, I was bored. Who in their right minds buy appliances in the US, ships them overseas for use in a foreign country without checking to see if they would work. At that point, I knew the rest of the book would be sometimes funny, sometimes believable, but a farce all the same. While I finished the book and would try something else by this author, I cannot recommend it. I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for my honest review. Thank you. ISBN: 1250147832 (ISBN13: 9781250147837) St. Martin's Press Pub Date: 03.20.18
PegGlover More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars It was the 1950s and, Michael and Scottie Messina were traveling to Italy. They were newlyweds and excited to be setting up a residence in Siena. They were, however, practically strangers. Both Michael and Scottie held their reasons for wanting to marry quickly, from each other. Michael did not want Scottie to know that he worked for the CIA. Their move to Italy was part of his first mission for them. His assignment was to use whatever means necessary to foil the current communist mayor’s plan to be re-elected. The CIA preferred their agents to be married. So Michael married Scottie as soon as he could. Scottie had her own reasons for desiring a hasty marriage. First of all, she didn’t want to bring a child into the world, without having a father. Second, she wanted Michael to think that the baby was his. Neither of them knew of the other’s betrayal. Michael had other things that he was hiding from Scottie; things that he felt deeply ashamed of. Scottie, in time, would build up her own chunk of guilty secrets that would weigh her down. Michael hated that he was constantly lying to Scottie. He worked long hours and knew that his excuses sounded lame to her. Michael wished that he had confided in Scottie about his CIA involvement before they had married. But, he didn’t know her well enough then. His employment as a salesman for American made tractors was a flimsy cover. As his work hours became more erratic and long, Scottie knew that Michael was deceiving her. She began to seek comfort for her loneliness, and as a result, had a few secrets of her own. The Italian Party is a captivating story. I think, however, that I would have enjoyed it more if there was less talk of politics in it. But all in all, I found the book an enjoyable and entertaining read. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
Monnie777 More than 1 year ago
This book was different from what I normally read but was still enjoyable. This book is about Michael and Scottie, two Americans who move to Italy about 11 years after WWII ended. They both arrive with a lot of secrets. You follow these two as they make lives in Italy and battle through their secrets. It was interesting to see what the 50s were like in Italy. Though both have lots of secrets from each other and from other people they are still interesting people to follow in this book and see how they get through everything. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
The Italian Party is a blast from the past. Travel back to 1950’s Italy where the Tuscans are still rebuilding after WWII, and the Americans, British and Soviets are each making a play for world domination as the Cold War heats up. While Christina Lynch’s book provides readers with a lot of interesting Cold War insight, The Italian Party is a fictional tale. It features newlyweds Michael and Scottie Messina, who rushed to the altar without knowing much about each other. Additionally, each has a few deep, dark secrets that have motivated them to marry. Through their trials and tribulations, the foundation of their marriage is shaken. I loved these two characters, and I wholly enjoyed reading of their escapades. Spirited, friendly Scottie easily wins over the townsfolk while her more serious husband works tirelessly to “sell Ford tractors to the local farmers”. Ms. Lynch’s book is provocative and fun. It blends the glamour of James Bond spy games and rural tourism. The story tension mounts when Scottie’s Italian teacher goes missing and it is apparent that neither Scottie nor Michael should completely trust anyone. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the “jig is up” scene. All the while, Ms. Lynch paints a beautiful picture of the Tuscan landscape, its people and cuisine. The avant-garde view of love and relationships is a bit ahead of its time. The politics, both local and worldwide, were icing on the cake, so to speak.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Scottie and Michael are newlyweds and have moved to Italy. Michael is starting a tractor business. And Scottie is just learning to survive in a strange country and with a strange husband. These two both have huge secrets they are keeping from each other. And when Scottie’s tutor goes missing..the story really takes off. Scottie and Michael’s relationship starts out pretty odd. They each have secrets and the way they interact with each other to keep these secrets hidden is interesting. As a matter of fact…it’s down right funny the lengths they go to not to let the cat out of the bag. But, there is something missing in this read. I was not a huge fan of Michael. I thought he was a little bit of a wuss. I wanted him to react differently in many situations. And believe me….when you find out ALL of Michael’s secrets…there are many situations. I could just picture the lovely scenery in Italy. What a unique place to set a “sort of” spy novel. Yes this book has a little of everything…love, spies communist, and even a cute little dog! I received this novel from the publisher to a honest review
mweinreich More than 1 year ago
fun and yet serious stars Oh to be able to live and work in Italy! Scottie and Michael in 1956 got to do just that. They were young, they were newly married and they had secrets. But, oh the food, oh the people, and oh the fun one could have meandering through the sociopolitical scene that happened after the war years! But maybe, it was not fun at all! Secrets and lies are always a way to undermine a marriage, a life, and a friendship. The fear was that the Communists would take over in Italy and of course that must at all costs be prevented. Scottie starts to form strong ties with the people, especially her young teacher of Italian, and when he disappears, things conspire to make both Scottie and Michael evaluate not only their lives and the motives of their home country, but also see the extent of the ways in which America would go to see itself victorious over Communism. This story, told with the glories of Italian life, the food, the wine, the lifestyle, was a wonderful way in which to see a country recovering from war. It also provided the reader with the ability to enjoy flawed characters and perhaps realize that our own country is and was quite flawed itself.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
My Review of “The Italian Party” by Christina Lynch Christina Lynch, Author of “The Italian Party” has written an enjoyable, unique, satire and fictional story. The “Italian Party” in no way really means a celebration. It actually refers to the Italy about 10 years after World War Two, while there are controversial political parties. The author describes her characters as complex, and complicated. Everyone has secrets, lies, omissions, and betrayals. For example, Scottie and Michael are newlyweds, but know absolutely nothing about one another. Really and truly. I can’t give away spoilers, but these two are certainly clueless. I can tell you that Michael works for the CIA, but Scottie has no idea. I can tell you that Scottie is a gorgeous blond American with a Vassar education, and a monumental secret, and never mentioned to Michael that she has no money. Michael thinks she is loaded. Scottie makes no secret that she loves horses, she is like a horse whisperer. Michael reads books on how a husband should treat a wife, and Scottie reads books on what a wife should do to make a husband happy. So where do these honeymooners go? They go to Italy of course. Michael tells Scottie he will be selling tractors to people who still use donkeys and mules. Of course he is with the CIA, and wants to make sure politics is on America’s side. Michael hires a tutor for Scotty to teach her Italian. Everything falls apart when her teacher goes missing , as well as a special horse. Scotty will not rest until she finds out what is happening. I appreciate the way the author uses vivid descriptions of the Italian countryside and mountains. Also mentioned is the variety of local foods, that appeals to all senses. I found this story to be witty and charming, and would recommend this to readers that enjoy both fiction and satire. I received an Advanced Reading Copy from NetGalley for my honest review.