It’s been one week since I’ve launched my first short story collection, Drink Wine and Be Beautful.
While I’m pleased sales have been going well, I’m most excited that my work is getting into the hands of many new readers. And I love to hear what they think.
I’m also thrileld to receive editorial reviews, including this new review in the Midwest Book Reviews. See full review below:
The short stories in Drink Wine and Be Beautiful are delicate renderings of Italian people and culture that capture succinct moments in time and the Italian psyche.
Its travels through the Italian countryside opens with a first-person portrait of Rome and love in ‘Amica Del Cuore,’ which explores the foundations of a long-time friendship between girls which unexpectedly evolved from a visit and a long-held dream to live in Rome.
The narrator reveals how she pursued this dream against all odds, holding it close through the trials of childhood and coming of age: “Rome, I convinced myself, was where my life would begin. My Roman Holiday. I never swayed from that certainty. It carried me through my unhappy childhood and my awkward teenage years. Money from waitressing stints and babysitting was all squirreled away for my Roman life.”
What she encounters when she finally walks into her Italian life is beyond anything she could have envisioned, and carries readers into an experience of fantasy, reality, and love.
‘Wine & Beauty,’ in contrast, captures the atmosphere of Milan and Simonetta’s world as she serves cliquey, elite economics students at a café and contemplates her relationship with a charismatic live-in student who appears to be her ideal partner, but only erodes her dreams.
Each piece captures a piece of Italian culture and its heart, presenting emotional works of romance and quiet contemplation which analyze the pathways of love and relationships.
Contrasts occur not just culturally and emotionally, but economically as the characters move through their worlds considering their ideals, goals, and the forces that have brought them to their current positions in life. Twenty-one stories examine a range of women’s experiences, from betrayal to missed connections and bonding experiences. Each provoke a thoughtful response in readers as they introduce new milieus of challenge and revelation.
These are astutely captured through dialogue that pursues life events and their consequences with insightful reflections:
“It was kind of fun when we were living in our little hovel here in Navigli, taking classes at Bocconi. Meeting guys who were all wrong for us. Never sure if we could scrape together enough money for rent. You’re right. I guess we didn’t appreciate it at the time. Didn’t know how good we had it.”
While Drink Wine and Be Beautiful is an attractive read for any who enjoy culturally rooted short stories in general and backdrops of Italy in particular, it will be especially appropriate for those contemplating their own journeys to Italy, who will find this the perfect take-along tote to absorb while on the way to their Italian holiday destination.
D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review