This is a novel of three women, three generations of the same family.
Flavia escaped from Sicily when she was a teenager and has never been back. She refuses to talk about her time out there with her daughter, Tess. The only thing she does remain true to is Italian cooking. She still subscribes to their way of cooking.
Tess has never been to Sicily. But when she is left a villa in a will with the caveat that she must come out there first before she can decide anything. The Villa happens to be where her own mother’s family worked, and their house is now a ruin in the grounds.
Ginny is coming to age when she wants to branch out into the world on her own, but feels constricted by her mother. It has only been them since she was born, and she has no father to help her find out who she really is. But Tess is very protective and the two come to blows as many a teenage daughter and mother do.
All three of these women, are facing different futures and having to look at their pasts as well. Flavia needs to answer the many questions about her past that she has kept hidden from her daughter. She does this through her cooking and writes down what went on in Sicily as well as the perfect recipes that need to be kept going in the family.
Whilst Flavia is writing, Tess is in Sicily finding out first hand about her mothers history from many different people she meets. Two of these are men, Giovanni and Tonino both have very different stories about their families history. Tess finds herself embroiled in a feud that has been running for over fifty years. She starts to learn very quickly about these men.
Ginny is left back at home without her mum and living with her grandparents. When a visitor turns up, it seems that perhaps Ginny can make a life for herself the way she wants, just as it seems her mother is doing in The Villa in Sicily.
This is not a light fluffy read, if you picked it up expecting that. It is in fact a bit more substantial – 560 pages of substance, perhaps a bit too much. The descriptions of Sicily, the Italian fairy stories, the myths and legends of a place and a family feud come across strongly in the book as much as the relationship between the three women. For me the myths became a bit cumbersome and I wanted a bit more a faster pace to the book, but I suppose life in this Sicilian village was never going to move fast. The paragraphs and sections dealing with food were good, but I have read better in other books if I am honest. The book could quite easily have survived without this and worked just as well with Flavia’s back story.
It is a book for a summer read, but your mind may wander as mine did if you read it.
I was disappointed with this book, although I think it was a good idea for a book. I read this whilst I was on holiday and also on my kindle upon which I invariably sail through books at speed. For some reason this was a slow read. It took a long time to get going, a long time when it got there to get past towards the end.
However, following my own logic (warped though it might be), I did not give up with it so there must have been something which kept me entertained enough to keep on reading. But I just don’t know what that was.