Addolorata Martinelli, Dolly to her family and friends has a successful restaurant which she runs after her father retired to Italy. She pours her heart and soul into this place and with a husband who she has been in love with since she was very young and a daughter, Dolly seems to have everything.
However, a choice few words from a restaurant critic leaves Dolly in crisis – maybe a midlife one, certainly one about knowing what food works in the restaurant but very much one where she needs to fulfill all those clichés – ‘regroup’ and ‘find herself’ but this book certainly is not a cliché.
Dolly is given an opportunity of time and space away from the restaurant to find what she needs to carry on her life, whether that be in London or somewhere else. Whether it be with food or another skill. Dolly needs to fundamentally find out what makes her happy.
Dolly finds herself in Venice, somewhere she thought she would be with the ones she loves not on her own, in a rather shabby hotel trying to fill her days and thinking about her. Despite her misgivings about going away for so long, it seems that fate deals her something which helps her on her way.
Alone in a city she has to find something to occupy her. Her thoughts turn to coffee, pastries, seafood, dance and friendship. She becomes friendly with an enigmatic lady known in Venice as Coco who shows her how another life can be led. A feisty Valentina who is working to avoid her happiness. Nanda whose happiness nows comes through long ago memories that do not stay around for very long. And Angelo who sweeps Dolly off her feet.
As the days turn into weeks, the list starts to develop and Dolly learns not just about the ten particular things that make her happy but actually what happiness is.
As a fan of Pellegrino’s work I know what I am getting with her books, the warmth of the sun on my skin, the feel of the breeze when it appears, the smell of the freshly cooked food to the point that you can almost taste it. With this book you get to appreciate something else – that although yes the big things can make you happy, like family, friends, a good job it is in fact all the small pleasures in life that we should be stopping and thinking about, being mindful of.
One of those pleasures is reading and this author is certainly one you need in your life to experience.
Thank you to the publisher Orion and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
One Summer in Venice is out 21 May in hardback – but out today on Kindle.
In the meantime, check out Nicky Pellegrino’s other work and my reviews, as I have added her to Author’s List of Works found at the top of this blog. I hope to read another Pellegrino before the year is out.