Sunday 23 March 2014

One Night In Italy by Lucy Diamond

If journalist Anna had to write up the story of her own life, it wouldn’t make for a great headline: Dull Journo Has Dull Boyfriend! The only mystery in Anna’s life is that she’s never known who her dad is but with her mum refusing to tell her more she’s at a dead end. When she accidentally comes across a clue that her father is Italian, it opens up a burning curiosity in Anna. Soon she’s cooking Italian food, signing up for an Italian class and even considering dusting off her passport to go and find her dad in person… 
Sophie is serving gelato to tourists in Italy when she gets the call that her father has had a serious heart attack. In a rush, she grabs her well-worn backpack and heads back to the one place she’s been avoiding for so long – home. Living with her mum again while her dad recuperates, and taking a job teaching Italian to make ends meet, Sophie has to face up to the secrets she’s kept buried in the past. 
Catherine has no idea what the future holds. Her children have left for university, her husband has left her for another woman and her bank account is left empty after dedicating her life to raising her family. She needs a job and an identity all of a sudden. At an Italian evening class she makes a start in finding new friends Anna and Sophie. And she’s going to need good friends when she discovers her husband’s lies run even deeper than his infidelity 
As Anna embarks on the trip to Italy that could answer all of her questions, will the truth live up to her dreams?

One Night in Italy is published in hardback by Pan Macmillan on 10 April 2014 and is Lucy Diamond's eighth novel.  I have previously reviewed The Beach Cafe and Me & Mr Jones here on Random Things. I love Lucy Diamond's writing, she never fails to cheer me up and One Night In Italy is possibly her best yet.

I love reading novels that are set in a familiar setting, and I fully expected One Night In Italy to be set in Rome or Venice or some other hot and sultry Italian city.  I was surprised and delighted to find that instead of the magic of the Mediterranean this story is set in glorious Sheffield - a place I know well and is very dear to my heart.

Each of the characters are linked by an evening class, they all sign up for Italian for Beginners, taught by Sophie, and although the course is only ten weeks long, it doesn't take them long to become firm friends.

Sophie herself has found herself back in her home town of Sheffield. She's spent the last few years running away, travelling the world, never settling anywhere for very long.  Teaching Italian to beginners was always going to be just a stop gap before her latest adventure abroad - but sometimes things just don't go to plan.
Catherine, the wife of a respected but not particularly pleasant GP discovers that despite the years of being a downtrodden wife, she really can do something.  Her classmates are just the encouragement that she needs.

And Anna, local journalist and girlfriend to the spreadsheet loving Pete; her life too will be changed dramatically by those few weeks of learning the basics of the Italian language.

Lucy Diamond has a gift for creating characters that the reader really can relate to. This eclectic group of people are so realistic that you find yourself becoming really attached to them and rooting for them all the way.   The story gallops along at a fast pace, with each character having their own starring role, although the supporting cast are all pretty great too.

There are serious issues amongst the funny one-liners and the author deals with these effortlessly too. From the downtrodden wife, to NHS corruption and newspaper politics, there really is something for everyone contained in this gem of a story.

Once again, Lucy Diamond has delivered a belter of a book.  Italy, Sheffield, food, recipes, love ... this is the perfect combination and will delight her fans.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan for my proof copy which I picked up at the Women's Fiction Party in January of this year. I was lucky enough to meet Lucy Diamond at the party, she's delicious - just like her books.

Lucy Diamond lives in Bath with her husband and their three children. One Night In Italy is her eighth novel. When she isn't slaving away on a new book (ahem) you can find her on Twitter @LDiamondAuthor.
She also has a website

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