Wednesday 24 May 2023

Guest Review: An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft

Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?

After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.

At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.

But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?

Review: What could be nicer than escaping on a summer trip to Sicily while the snow is falling outside my window! This is what I was promised when I began this book, and it did not fail to deliver. As an added treat, I was delighted to be reacquainted with characters from Sue Moorcroft’s earlier book, Under the Italian Sun, and catch up on their lives.

This story focuses mainly on one of the central characters from the earlier novel, Ursula Quinn. Having divorced her controlling husband, sold her flat and left her job behind, she is pleased to be offered a part-time position and accommodation in a small boutique hotel on an island off the coast of Sicily, where she will also be able to follow her ambition to learn the art of ceramics painting. She soon fits in with the delightful family who own the hotel, until the arrival of their son, Alfio. He has returned to the hotel having given up his job in Barcelona to help his mother and sister, and is none too happy to find that Ursula is already doing just that. Fortunately, their initial mutual dislike soon changes to friendship and even romance. However, interference from her ex-husband and the emergence of a shocking family secret begin to spoil Ursula’s enjoyment of her new life. At the same time, Alfio finds himself having to make decisions about his future.

I enjoyed this book very much. It is full of friendship, emotion and romance, with a few family dramas thrown in of course. In her usual fashion, Sue Moorcroft transports the reader to an exotic location and makes them feel at home there; I could almost feel the Sicilian sun in my face. The family-run hotel where Ursula works sounds so warm and welcoming, just the kind of place I would like to stay. I loved meeting Ursula again and seeing her emerge from the difficult place she was in to a happier and stronger person altogether. Alfio sounded a good match for her. The one thing that I didn’t feel happy about in the story was the situation with Ursula’s parents; I personally felt uneasy about how the state of affairs was left. That aside, I would definitely recommend this book as a read that will leave many planning a trip to Sicily soon.

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