Renowned journalist and travel expert Kristin Harmel has written a total of seven novels as of this writing - Italian for Beginners is Harmel's fifth novel.
Thirty-four-year-old Cat Connelly has always been consistent and careful with her lifestyle, especially since her mother ran off years ago and left Cat with the responsibility of helping her father raise her younger sister and run the household. After Cat's mother had returned home years later, then passed away shortly after, Cat can't help but feel that something major is still missing from her life.
After being humiliated at her younger sister's wedding for still being single at her "old age," Cat decides to vacation in Rome with hopes of reuniting with a man she had experienced a romantic fling with years earlier. However, much to her dismay, not everything works as perfectly for Cat as she had initially hoped. Cat then decides that it is in her best interest to embrace new opportunities with zest - opportunities that could cause her life to change for the better. It's not long before Cat begins to embrace a new life passion, and of course, manages to rediscover herself in the process.
Italian for Beginners is easily a fun and inspiring story, with absolutely no lulls at all. In fact, the beginning of the novel is full of such deprecating humor in regards to Cat's life, that you can't help but want to keep reading just to see how she comes out ahead. From Cat's disastrous wedding episode, to the humiliating experience with Francesco (her old-time Italian lover), and to her initial run-in with Karina (Cat's new landlord in Rome), the first few chapters of Italian for Beginners is a fast and fun ride.
Fans of Roman Holiday (that would be the classic 1953 Audrey Hepburn film, for you younger Millennial-generation readers) will eat this book up, since many of the book's scenes are reminiscent of Hepburn's own actions in the film. The Roman Holiday film itself actually plays a major role in Cat's character development.
The best part of Italian for Beginners is its message to readers - which is that no matter how old you are, or what hardships you have endured thus far in life, you can always create a fresh start for yourself. You can also always find new love, new family, and new relationships with the most unexpected people.
Fans of Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy and other books by Frances Mayes will definitely enjoy Italian for Beginners. Some of Kristin Harmel's other titles include When You Wish (2008), After (2010), and The Sweetness of Forgetting, which is due to release this August, 2012.
Click on any of the images of the books below to review them in more detail on Amazon.com.
What other books have you read that take place in Rome or Italy? Do you have similar recommendations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!