Even adultery can lead to happiness, suggests Lynch (House of Daughters
, 2008, etc.) in her off-balance tale combining whimsy, sadness, tragedy and farce. When hyper-efficient wife and corporate hotshot Lily Turner discovers a photograph in her husband Daniel's closet revealing he has another family in Italy, she is forced to realize her 16-year-old marriage has been drained of magic by the unhappiness arising from her five miscarriages and a failed adoption. The daughter of an abusive alcoholic mother, Lily has also started drinking and, during a binge, books a flight to Rome to track Daniel down in the Tuscan village of Montevedova. Here she encounters Violetta and Luciana, the cantucci
-baking founders of the Secret League of Widowed Darners, which matches up lonely hearts. Lily, earmarked for a handsome widower, is also befriended by Francesca, Daniel's illegitimate daughter who is going through an unhappy childhood similar to Lily's. Other parallels abound: pairs of sisters, melancholy men folk, adulterous offspring. In a credulity-expanding conclusion, Italian clichés are reasserted and broken hearts mended.
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