On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespearian scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast. There she meets a sardonic chef named Dante and his 12-year-old daughter Etta—and begins to fall in love.
As quickly as I was swept away by Lizzie’s love affair with Dante and her friendship with Grey, it was her mothering of Etta—against the realities of time, location and sickness—that took my breath away. As Dante says in one of the novel’s most powerful scenes, 'Grief is a gift. Grief means that you threw your heart into life and lived it fiercely. Suffering is a gift.' Reading this book is by no means an act of suffering, but there is plenty of grief and, as Dante explains it, plenty of heart, life and fierceness to match it. A powerful story about choosing to live and the courage it takes to do so, dying or not, and the extravagance of a life well-lived ... without a doubt the best book of summer 2021. I cannot wait to see what else Mary Bly has up her sleeve.
... a thrilling scene [is] buried deep in a romantic novel about love, death and Italy, but not at all surprising given the book's author ... The scene fits quite naturally in the book, but it is also a lovely homage to Mary's father and his poet friends Wright and Donald Hall (upon whom the character of Joseph is based) ... something different, a moving modern-day love story laced with poetry ... it's also good to see [Bly] shuck the rustling taffeta of the Georgian era for a bikini and sandals, and to see her sizzling sex scenes laced with a bit of poetry.
... a poignant, character-driven novel about living, loving, and looking mortality in the eye ... Bly doesn't spare the tears, breathing life into each of her genuine, passionate characters, especially Lizzie, the emotional tinderbox. She also brilliantly handles some tricky relationships and takes readers on an armchair adventure to Elba ... Fans of emotional tearjerkers, of romance, or of authors Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand will not be able to put this down.