But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Like so many readers, I was absolutely obsessed with Rebecca Serle’s In Five Years when I read it towards the end of 2020 – yes, I know the book was published early than that but it was one of those cases where the hype kept me away… but when I finally did read it, I TOTALLY understood the hype. Lesson learned, I knew I wanted to get my hands on Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer ASAP, based on how much I loved In Five Years & enjoyed The Dinner List (I haven’t ventured into her YA novels) AND the amazing-sounding synopsis of this book. And yes dear reader (can you tell I’m writing this review during release weekend of Bridgerton Season 2?), One Italian Summer was everything I wanted and more.
One Italian Summer follows thirty year old Katy, who has very recently lost her mother to cancer. Katy’s mother, Carol, was the love of her life, as the mother-daughter duo were absolutely inseparable. Katy and Carol were supposed to go to Positano, Italy, together, where Carol spent time as a young woman before getting married & having Katy. Dealing with her grief and struggling with her marriage to her husband, Eric, Katy decides to go on the trip solo. While in Positano, visiting all the places her mother frequented, Katy runs into Carol herself – a healthy, happy third year old version.
I started One Italian Summer on Thursday night and came home from work to then finish it that Friday night. If you love books with mother daughter dynamics at the center or want something that reminds you of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, you absolutely need to read this book. Sidenote that I LOVE that the quote at the beginning of the book is from Lorelai on the last episode of Gilmore Girls AND that Lauren Graham narrates the audiobook. I rarely do this, but I might just have to reread One Italian Summer just for her narration and to experience this book again.
One Italian Summer is one of those books that I absolutely loved while reading, but one in which my love grew for it as soon as I was finished. It is rare that books do indeed make me cry, but I was literally sobbing at this book’s end, between some of the conversations Katy has with Carol towards the end and Katy’s goodbye to her mother. There is so much I loved about this book, but Katy and Carol’s relationship especially was so special. I loved the storyline with Katy meeting this younger version of her mother so much, while also often transitioning back to past memories of her mother from their time together. Again without spoilers, but the twists in this book got me every time and felt very fitting & right to the story.
What I loved of course so much about One Italian Summer was the setting. I’ve never even been to Italy (one day!!) but Rebecca Serle makes the reader feel as they are too with Katy at the Hotel Poseidon – which is based on a real hotel that Rebecca Serle stayed at in Italy! I am so craving beach weather now because of this book, let alone a trip to the Amalfi Coast. This book also added more than expected, especially about Katy’s marriage and the man she meets in Positano, Adam. The book also has themes surrounding self exploration & doing what you’re supposed to with vs feeling truly content, as Katy feels that she’s hit all the check marks in her life so far and must face having to live without having her mother’s approval & having her as a sounding board.
Overall, One Italian Summer is for sure a favorite book of 2022 and one that I definitely plan on revisiting.
Have you read One Italian Summer? What did you think? Have you read In Five Years or any of Rebecca Serle ’s other books? Share in the comments!