Review – One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond

By | June 27, 2014

How do you say ‘I love you’ in Italian? Is Italian really the language of love? A new class of students hopes to find out.

Anna’s recently been told the father she’s never met is Italian. Now she’s baking focaccia, whipping up tiramisu and swotting up on her vocabulary, determined to make it to Italy so she can find him in person.

Catherine’s husband has walked out on her, and she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life. But she’ll need courage as well as friends when she discovers his deception runs even deeper than infidelity.

Sophie’s the teacher of the class, who’d much rather be back in sunny Sorrento. She can’t wait to escape the tensions at home and go travelling again. But sometimes life – and love – can surprise you when you least expect it.

As the evening class gets underway, friendships form and secrets from Italy begin to emerge. With love affairs blossoming in the most unlikely places, and hard decisions to face, it’s going to be a year that Anna, Catherine and Sophie will never forget.

When I reviewed Milly Johnson’s wonderful The Teashop on the Corner, I mused a little on the cafe/bookshop as a way of bringing together a cast of characters, each with their own story.  Here’s another that works equally well – the evening class. Yes, it’s been done before – there’s Erica James’ Hidden Talents, and Evening Class by Maeve Binchy is one of my all-time favourites. This lovely book by Lucy Diamond – whose writing seems to be getting better with every book – is an equally enjoyable read, out in paperback just in time for holiday reading. 

First, let me manage your expectations – if you’re reading this book because you like an Italian setting, be aware that it’s set in Sheffield!  That said, the Italian flavour features really heavily through the background stories, the language class and the food Anna cooks.  Anna is one of the three main characters – she writes for a local paper, and is stuck with the most awful boring boyfriend who keeps a spreadsheet on their sex life (amid other transgressions). She discovers that her father – who she knew nothing about – is Italian, and learns Italian cookery as well as learning the language, hoping to travel and find him. The second lead character is Catherine – when her children leave for university without a second glance, she discovers that her marriage isn’t what she thought it was – fragile at first, she kick starts her life with the support of friend Penny (a quite wonderful creation), starting with learning italian.  Sophie teaches the class – home after years away, she needs to resolve issues in her relationship with her parents. And then there’s ex-boyfriend Dan…

This book was a quite perfect read – the main characters are realistic, very easy to like, and the supporting cast contribute perfectly to the progression of the story. As with many of Lucy Diamond’s other books – I reviewed Christmas at the Beach Cafe back in November (and loved it – and don’t, whatever you do, miss The Beach Cafe or Summer With My Sister…) – this is one of those books that give you the luxury of a total escape.  For as long as you take to read it, her world becomes your world, and when you’re reaching the end you really don’t want to leave. And her writing is excellent – she writes humour as effortlessly as she moves you to tears.

Now, have you got room for two books in your holiday suitcase? You’ll remember I’ve already told you to take Milly Johnson’s latest – take this one too, it’s such perfect holiday reading, and you should have the loveliest of breaks.

My thanks to netgalley for my advance reading copy.  One Night in Italy was published by Pan Macmillan on 5th June in Kindle and paperback formats – also available in hardcover.

Lucy Diamond is actually called Sue Mongredien.  She was born in 1970 and grew up in Nottingham. After reading English at Leeds University she moved to London and worked for various publishers before packing it all in to go travelling around the world for a year and a half. When she came back to the UK, she worked in publishing again, then moved to the BBC. She now lives in Bath with her husband and three young children and divides her time between writing and looking after them. Her favourite things are beaches, holidays, chocolate, wine, reading, Green Wing, bubble baths, sunshine, hearing her children laugh, and babysitters.