A summer college course in Florence, Italy brings together eight disparate college students forging a bond and shaping futures.
Rune ~ Charming but always with an angle. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll is the life he craves. Hard, fast, and loose but what does it net you in the end?
Karen and Meghan ~ Lovely twins who dream of opening a boutique together when they get back home. Karen becomes engaged to her long term boyfriend, Ed, while in Italy. An engagement doesn’t stop Karen from making her Italian summer memorable. Meghan is quieter, living in Karen’s shadow, always allowing her twin to eclipse her.
Hope ~ Not beautiful like the twins or Bella, confidence and an inner beauty give Hope a an appeal that goes beyond the surface. Hope’s faith in the love and future with her fiancé, Charlie, are the foundation of her confidence.
Lee ~ Scholarly and appealing in a nerdy way, Lee is under pressure from his mother to be a doctor. Not just any doctor but a specialist. Lee’s true love is art, especially sculpture.
Bella~ Beautiful as her name suggests, Bella’s never been out of New York and away from her mother. Italy has the potential to be the experience of a lifetime for Bella. When she becomes the object of desire for both Stillman and Phillip she knows she has to choose one and only one.
Stillman ~ Handsome and charming Southern gentleman and scholar. Like Lee he’s on the pre-med track at the same school. Lee and Stillman are the only two who already know each other. Stillman and Phillip are competitive from the beginning and Bella is the brass ring they’re reaching for.
Phillip ~ Handsome, self assured and athletic. Phillip has a laid back California manner that puts Bella at ease and makes her laugh.
Thirty years after they left Italy the friends receive an anonymous invitation to return to Florence, first class all expenses paid. The invitation specifies no spouses, no children, no friends allowed and ends with the dare: Regrets are for cowards. Who could resist?
Ms. Mencini immediately engages the reader, skillfully bringing the characters, their experiences, environs, and the Tuscan region of Italy to vibrant life. Hard to believe this is her debut.
After their return home the reader is kept in touch with the individual characters a bit differently than the norm. Rather than following a linear timeline we’re reacquainted at pivotal points in each characters life. By leaving out the insignificant and minutia we’re left with the defining, life altering moments for each, the essence. This distillation gives each character glimpse weight and significance.
While there’s a level of connection or relation with each character I confess to having favorites. Meghan and Stillman. They possess a poignancy and depth the other characters lacked.
Like all good reads, TO TUSCANY WITH LOVE sweeps the reader away into another life, time, and place.
Thanks to Sami at JKS Communications MIBN has an ecopy of TO TUSCANY WITH LOVE to give to one (1) lucky commenter. Under what circumstances would you accept & not accept and anonymous invitation? Giveaway ends @12 am est on 1-16-14. Good luck y'all, it's a good one!
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Inspired by a family friend’s trip to Tuscany for a college reunion, Mencini introduces readers to eight very different students who meet while studying abroad during a life-changing summer semester. They reunite 30 years later only to discover lingering emotions, the need to address the fear of letting the past dictate the future, and the power of friendship.
“What entices me about college reunions, especially those that happen several years after graduation, is that I imagine people going through life with a suitcase,” Mencini says. “By the time a person is in ‘those middle years,’ their suitcase is full of successes, failures, secrets, regrets, and unfulfilled dreams. It is a fascinating time to bring people back together again.”
In this heartbreaking and humorous romp through central Italy, the author breathes life into the book’s pages with eloquent descriptions of cities and hillside towns as well as the region’s local wine and cuisine. Mencini personally visited the historical and cultural landmarks detailed in “To Tuscany with Love” in order to capture the flavor of the area with authenticity.
As a breast cancer survivor, Mencini writes the life-threatening disease into her novel in an effort to encourage other women to do a self-breast exam or get an annual screening mammogram.