Books

The Villa Girls – Nicky Pellegrino

Holidays are meant as a break, as an escape from the normal humdrum way of life. For Rosie, Lou, Toni and Addolorata it is the beginning of a lifelong friendship which is punctuated by these holidays away together. The first is when they are eighteen and go to a villa in Majorca. This is not your typical group of friends, they seem to have come together by accident more than design. For Rosie, the main character in this book, she is the last one in, the outsider. More so by the fact that she is orphaned and the others have no idea what to do or say. Rosie has her own ideas about life and as the book progresses you see how she starts to find her way for herself, realising that she perhaps does need the strength of family love behind her. Even if it is not her own family.

From Rosie’s story, we alternate into Enzo’s story. Enzo is the complete opposite of Rosie, he has everything that she does not. Parents, siblings, a future, a path in life but just like Rosie he does not have love. Enzo is the first son of an olive oil estate in Italy. We learn about how life works in Italy for such a well known family and the way that simple Sunday evening walks are seen as parading the best girls from families to be snatched up by the best boys. This is a marriage market without the title.

But then four girls arrive in the Italian countryside, on one of their holidays to a villa they catch the eye of Enzo and his friends. Does Enzo see a way out of a structured life that he has coming and does Rosie see a way into a structured life that she secretly wants but will not admit to? Or is it just a holiday romance?

When Toni, one of Rosie’s friends witnesses something whilst visiting the estate that Enzo has invited them to, it changes the path for all of them. Life now has to go very differently and the present very quickly becomes the past. But there still seems to be issues to be resolved.

If Rosie goes back without knowing, will she ever find what she is looking for?

The story takes a while to get going for me, mainly because we swapped characters in each chapter and I felt that not enough time was being given on building their background story. However, once you overcome this and I did so within the first 60 pages or so, the story gets going and it becomes a good read. Nicky Pellegrino somehow manages to make you want to jump in the book and eat the food that she is describing, to be sat round a big table whilst the food is brought on a somewhat continuous conveyor belt. Eating is an occasion in Italy, and Nicky reflects this very well. You can taste it, you can smell it, you can feel the sun on your back whilst you watch it all grow.

If you have never read any of Nicky’s work before then this is a good place to start. Be grateful you can experience all this rich food without putting on one calorie!

Nicky Pellegrino will make your mouth water as she describes not just the method of making the oil, to the wonderful Italian food which Enzo’s family creates and eats as if it is an occasion and not a means of fueling yourself for the next day. This is one of the strengths of the book, the whole atmosphere of the Italian olive farm is brought carefully to life. I have no idea if it is right, but it was certainly an interesting read about something which I think very little of when we pick up a bottle in the supermarket. Oh to be sat outside on a warm summers day (either in the UK or Italy) reading and dipping fresh bread in flavoured oil! Oh the calories are just sticking to me. Thank goodness for her books. 

I have read nearly all of her books and must seek out the ones I have not read. I took a chance on one of her books, why don’t you? 

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