SWEET ROME by Audrey Stainton


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In the 1950s Mike Donati, English-born of Italian parents, becomes a minor film-star in Italy and falls in love with English secretary Robin. But both Mike and Robin have gotten messily involved with a coarse young Italian PR climber named Beppe Palazzo: Mike has fumed over Beppe's crude gossip-mongering (and over the suspicious death of one of Beppe's would-be-starlet clients); Robin, in some weak moments when her darker sexual side surfaced, has had a few one-night stands with unattractive but virile Beppe. And then, when Robin gets pregnant by Mike and a wedding is planned, Beppe makes his foullest move yet--with a photo in the papers to prove that he is the baby's father. So Mike gets mad, beats Beppe up. . . and when Beppe then disappears, innocent Mike is convicted of murder (despite there being no corpse), while Robin's baby is still-born. Jump, then, to the 1970s: Mike has served 20 years and now, naturally, wants vengeance on Beppe. Is Beppe still alive? Where is he? Will Mike really kill him if he finds him? Those are the only mildly intriguing questions in the air as Mike hunts for Beppe, reuniting with now-married Robin--who helps him to shadow Beppe's aged mother, And Stainton stretches out the proceedings--to a slow 300+ pages--by marbling the so-so suspense with a slew of limp romantic moments. (""As he subsided on her breast, spent with fatigue, her own arms tightened round him in tranquility. 'Robin!' he gasped. 'Oh, Robin.'"") A decent but severely overextended blend of psychological thriller and soap-opera, then, fairly strong on the Italian-film backgrounds but weak on character and pacing.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1982
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston