Romanzo by Angela Montgomery ($1.80 Kindle version) is a gripping coming-of-age tale of a young, naive English girl who moves to Milan for work and possibly love and quickly finds herself in the middle of political corruption and scandal.
The book starts out lightheartedly enough as we meet Marsya about to embark on an exciting adventure in a foreign country and a potential new love affair with an up-and-coming Italian architect. But a few not-so-great decisions and plot twists later, she’s knee-deep, then neck-deep, and then in over her head in a world she never could have imagined as an actress back in the UK.
I enjoyed this book not only for the fast-paced action and storyline, but also because it is set in the Italy that many Italophiles don’t get to read about often — the one that encompasses business, politics, and the challenges that the youth of Italy face in finding and establishing career paths.
Montgomery does a particularly great job with the characters of Marco, the young architect torn between staying in Italy to help strengthen his home country and moving abroad for better economic possibilities, and Pregiato, the pompous representative of the monied, privileged cronyism that is so rampant in Italy today.
Anyone who remembers the Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) investigation in the 1990s will especially appreciate the story this book has to tell, and students of Italy in general will see amazing similarities between characters in the book and major players in Italian politics today.
Despite the heavy subjects dealt with, though, at its heart, this book is a tale of love, and it reads more like mainstream women’s fiction with power and corruption mixed in rather than the other way around.
I give this book four espresso cups out of five:
and recommend it to anyone interested in reading about an Italy far outside of Tuscan villas and quaint country living.
You can follow Angela Montgomery @romanzothenovel on Twitter.
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