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October book club - An Italian Summer

(60 Posts)
LauraGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 01-Oct-18 11:21:34

Hi everyone! Official October book club thread here smile

You should be starting to receive your copies of Fanny Blake's book so, once you've read it, please do leave your questions and comments for Fanny below.

If you've borrowed or bought a copy yourself, you're very welcome to join the conversation too.

Happy reading!

Greenfinch Mon 22-Oct-18 12:38:57

It took me quite a while to get into this book and consequently quite a long time to read it. I couldn't really identify with any of the characters and I felt the liaison between Mark and Lia was a bit far fetched. I would have liked a twist in the tale at the end.However,I did enjoy the last 100 or so pages and agree with others that it was a light holiday read.

emmasnan Sun 21-Oct-18 19:14:02

I loved this book, very easy to read with a story line I enjoyed.
Wonderful descriptions of Italy, very accurate and she even mentioned the heat which can be quite tiring. Its made me want to go there again and visit more places.
I'll certainly look out for more books by Fanny Blake.

cornergran Fri 19-Oct-18 16:23:48

This was just the right type of book for me at the moment. Concentration and time are both limited and this was ideal as I could read a few pages and easily return a day or two later.

Trips to Italy are among my favourites, it was good to be able to see it again through the descriptive passages. The friendship between Sandy and Alice seemed both feasible and very real. I would have liked Sandy to be a little tougher earlier in the book, she irritated me in the beginning but I warmed to her later.

My ‘wonders’ for the author echo many others expressed here. Has Fanny lived in Italy, how was the research carried out? Might there be any plans for a sequel or even series? Either focused on Italy, Sandy or other characters from this book?

Thank you GN and Fanny, this book was well timed for me.

Hellsbelles Fri 19-Oct-18 10:30:34

Have just finished the book. It was such an uplifting read, at the beginning I wasn't thinking I would like Sandy but a few chapters in I was certainly hoping she was going to get her 'happy ending'. I agree with other readers that the friendship with Alice was also a lovely aspect of the book. Fanny Blake catches the essence of Italy perfectly and whilst I've never particularly felt the need to travel there from holiday programmes the words on the page and the love you can feel she has of the place has added Italy as one of the places I'd now like to visit. A very good read.

nahsma Wed 17-Oct-18 19:29:27

An enjoyable holiday read. The characters were well drawn and the descriptions of Rome and Naples were wonderfully vivid. I thought the way everything suddenly came together and got sorted out at the end was a bit glib - did Alice really already live so close she could stay at Sandy's home while still getting to her new job? But a minor quibble! I would be interested to know if Fanny Blake plans everything before she starts to write, or whether once the characters are coming to life, she lets them take over and lead the story along?

Harris27 Mon 15-Oct-18 21:19:04


Harris27 Mon 15-Oct-18 21:18:16

Thank you gransnet loved the book transported me back to Rome and the summer! It was a easy read and liked the characters felt it mixed on really well. First time with this utter but won't be my last enjoyed it. Passing it onto my sister.

janiceanne Mon 15-Oct-18 15:01:15

Thank you Gransnet for introducing me to Fanny Blake. I found the novel 'An Italian Summer' enthralling and thoroughly enjoyable.
I will certainly be reading more of her books.
The composition of the story reminded me very much of Joanna Trollops's style of writing in dealing with relationships. Absolutely loved the story-line and the wonderful descriptions of Italy.

otherwiseknownasGrandma Mon 15-Oct-18 10:41:45

Thanks for my free copy of the book. I thought it was an enjoyable, light-hearted read.

I liked the fact that the main characters were older - children leaving home, spouses and parents dying, marriages ending, unconventional family groups, new relationships in later life, competing against younger blood for promotion, returning to work after raising a family and changing career are all interesting topics easy to relate to.

I felt that the author had done her research on Rome and Naples, especially the details about the food and the heat! It would have been a great holiday read, especially if you were lucky enough to be holidaying in Italy. It did make me want to go back.

Mapleleaf Sun 14-Oct-18 18:11:43

Not sure where the name "Susan" came from in my thread! I did, of course, mean Sandy. 😁

Grannyknot Sun 14-Oct-18 15:11:39

An enjoyable read for someone like me who loves Italy (although I've never been to the areas mentioned in the book but now definitely plan to do just that).

I found myself stopping the book every so often to Google and read up about a place, a painting or a sculpture.

The characters were well-drawn, I liked (understood) the friendship that developed between Sandy and Alice. I really liked Steven smile

My question to the author is - how long is a book like this in the making? As someone else has said, the research seems pretty extensive.

kyalami Sun 14-Oct-18 13:59:57

Thank you so much for this delightful read! Having visited Rome, Naples & the Amalfi Coast at different times it was a delight to be able to reminisce & revisit a lot of the places mentioned in the story. Although a lighthearted story I enjoyed it very much as a bedtime read & was easy to pick up & put down, I don’t like anything too gritty.
I think it’s fascinating that Fanny was able to research the places in Italy for her story & ask if there is anywhere else in the world she would like to visit & maybe use as a location for future books. Does Fanny always have a few ideas/story plots on the back burner ready to be expanded?
Having not read any of Fanny’s books before it’s something I intend to remedy & will be purchasing her past books, a delightful author. 😁

Marydoll Sun 14-Oct-18 07:08:36

I too have just finished it and enjoyed it. As Geminijen has said, it's a good holiday read, pleasant and non taxing, with a good mix of characters.
I enjoyed the attention to detail in the descriptions of Rome. I know Rome pretty well and her descriptions were so accurate, that I could visualise myself walking with Sandy through the streets of Rome.
I didn't find Sandy portrayed as the strong character she was meant to be, a bit bland for me and definitely not like the depute heads, I've known.
Also, I had hoped for a twist in the tail at the end, so found the ending a bit too predictable. However, I do like a happy ending!
This type of book is not my preferred genre, I like reading crime stories, but I did enjoy it. Thanks GN and Fanny Blake for the copy.

GeminiJen Sat 13-Oct-18 19:44:43

This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I found it a pleasant holiday read: light, enjoyable and an effortless way of savouring Rome and Naples without having to endure the scorching heat of high summer! Having been on a few small group holidays over the years, I thought that the author captured the experience beautifully: the different alliances formed, secrets shared, problems aired. The characters are immediately recognisable: the cheery and over-enthusiastic tour guide, the predators (both male and female), the know-alls, the show-offs, the fun-lovers, the insecure. The Italian setting is perfect too: one feels that the author really knows the country well. The book could almost be used as a guide: the “must see” locations (and some of the “maybe don’t bother” ones) described in vivid detail.
Spoiler alert - As for Sandy, I found her very likeable and wanted things to turn out well for her. Her sadness over the loss of her husband, death of her mother, uncertainty about her new relationship, her work and family concerns, all were sympathetically and realistically portrayed. I enjoyed the storyline too, even if it did all come together rather too neatly for me in the end.
My question for the author: I found the attention to detail quite impeccable and should like to ask about the nature and extent of your research, beyond the “relentless fortnight” referred to in the Acknowledgements!
Thanks to Fanny Blake for a good read and to Gransnet for introducing me to this author flowers

Mapleleaf Sat 13-Oct-18 09:40:45

Well, I've just finished reading this book, and found it an easy going read, though it took me a while to get going with it as I expected it to be mostly about Susan and her search rather than lots of threads involving different characters and their issues. It was a nice bit of escapism, but rather too neat at the end which I felt was not really very realistic, with everything clicking into place for all concerned, with those needing their comeuppance getting it and those needing reward getting it. Not sure real life is quite like that.
I would like to ask Fanny if she has spent any time living in Italy, especially around Rome and Naples, or has it all been thorough research, as she seems to know a lot about the areas she covers in the book?

Writerbird Fri 12-Oct-18 10:04:29

Thank you Greenfinch

Greenfinch Fri 12-Oct-18 09:41:43

About the middle of the month click on Books and it will tell you what the book for the next month is to be. Read the blurb and it will tell you how to apply.Good luck!

Writerbird Thu 11-Oct-18 07:39:50

Hello. I'm new to gransnet and really like the look of your book club. Please tell me how I can join it.

Dadima123 Wed 10-Oct-18 21:32:29

Thank you Gransnet for the book.
I enjoyed reading it.
It was slow to begin with- I found it did not hook me, but I persevered and got into it.
It was a nice light read. The Italian backdrop was interesting. Apart from the sights, I loved the food! I was constantly hungry whilst I read!
The characters were developed well, Fanny had me rooting for the goodies and wanting comeuppance for the ‘baddies’.
The slow reveal of the mystery kept me turning the pages and I appreciated the neat happy ending.
(I grew up on a reading diet of fairy tales,).
Thank you, Fanny, I would certainly pick up more Fanny Blake books.

Pittcity Wed 10-Oct-18 15:31:13

I was exhausted by the heat and the pace of the Italian tour and I was sitting reading in the autumnal UK.
The plot was predictable. I was rooting for Alice to get back to a life she'd love. Not so much for Sandy as her Italian adventure was not so easy to believe.
There was an emphasis on same sex couples having children...did the author add this to make the story contemporary?

matson Tue 09-Oct-18 17:47:05

Not my usual cup of tea, very mills and boon, with predictable story line.
The Rome and Naples sightseeing descriptions were interesting, an easy holiday read maybe.

Purpledaffodil Tue 09-Oct-18 14:08:36

I really enjoyed this book, enough twists and surprises to keep me engrossed and the characters were well drawn too. The settings were nicely described and I noticed that the author thanked her husband for his patience on holidays that were actually research😁I don’t know Italy that well and the descriptions certainly inspired this reader to plan a visit next year.
Yet again, I can imagine this would make an excellent film or TV serial. Does the author think that this may be possible?

Marydoll Mon 08-Oct-18 14:20:37

Well I've started it and so far I'm enjoying it. It's an easy read.
What I like about it most, is it's accurate in its description of Rome. Often authors set books in a city they don't know very well, but Fanny Blake is obviously familiar with Rome.
I've just returned from my annual visit to Rome and the book has brought back happy memories.

mbody Mon 08-Oct-18 14:02:06

Enjoyed the book, loved the tour of Italy and descriptions of places.

cornergran Fri 05-Oct-18 19:41:55

Arrived back home today to find my copy. Thank you GN, looking forward to settling with it as soon as there’s time.