ARC Review: Carissima

ImageTitle: Carissima

Author: Rosanna Chiofalo

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: From Rosanna Chiofalo comes a sumptuous new novel that sweeps readers from the Italian-American enclave of Astoria, New York, to the stunning vistas of Rome, and introduces two very different women—in a story of friendship, love, and destiny…

In college, Pia Santore had dreamed of going to New York and taking the Big Apple by storm with her younger sister Erica. Instead, Pia has arrived in Astoria, Queens, with a prestigious journalism internship at a celebrity magazine…and without Erica. Though the neighborhood has an abundance of appeal—including the delectable confections sold at her Aunt Antoniella’s bakery—the pain of losing Erica a few years ago still feels fresh.

Pia’s arrival coincides with an unexpected sighting. Italian movie icon Francesca Donata is rumored to be staying nearby, every bit as voluptuous and divaesque as in her heyday. With the help of a handsome local artist with ties to Francesca’s family, Pia convinces the legend to grant her a series of interviews—even traveling to her house in Rome. In the eternal city, Pia begins to unearth the truth behind the star’s fabled romances and tangled past. And here too, where beauty and history mingle in every breathtaking view, and hope shimmers in the Trevi fountain and on the Spanish Steps, Pia gradually learns how to love and when to let go. For when in Rome, you may find your carrisima—your dearest one—and you may even find yourself…

Review: As a fan of Adriana Trigiani’s Valentine series, I was very excited to receive a copy of this book, and if you are also a fan of Trigiani’s work then I am sure you might find this book endearing to your tastes as well. Featuring two Italian women as the main characters, Carissima is a story that seeks to explore friendship, love, and moving on from the mistakes of the past. In some ways I will say that the novel succeeded in the fulfillment of it’s premise, but in other ways I was disappointed with the enigmatic ways of its’ main character.

While Francesca Donata and Pia Santore come from different eras and walks of life, they are soon bunched together to discover their similarities. As an aspiring journalist, Pia is on a mission to secure an interview with the Italian screen-legend that has appeared with much mystique in a neighborhood of Astoria. The neighbors and the paparazzi are enthralled by her appearance, but Pia remains aloof from Francesca with preconceived notions of the legend’s nature, which Francesca also contributes to with her controlling nature when it comes to stipulations of the interview and her treatment of other people. For a while the story seemed very stilted as the women challenged each other for control of the situation; however, once they began to open up to one another they discover that they are more alike than they previously had thought. The novel blossomed into something that grabbed my interest more and more as Francesca and Pia discuss and confront their demons of the past in the areas of guilt, forgiveness, friendship, and love. At this point I thought I knew where the story was going until the author threw a major wrench into the works towards the end.

Perhaps if the wrench had been omitted I would have liked the story more. Or maybe, my distaste towards the conclusion could have been resolved if the author had dug deeper into the behavior of Francesca. The reader and Pia believe they have figured the woman out only to have her return to her enigmatic ways again. The explanation for her behavior was very quick, crass, and did not fulfill a sense of understanding, recognition, or pity in me as a reader. If the point had always been to reach this climax and quickly resolved conclusion then the author should have done a much better job of peeling back further layers of Francesca’s character to support how she could have acted this way.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is August 27, 2013.

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