In this debut novel, two empty nesters in their 50s struggle to save their marriage as secrets come to the surface.
In the sun-kissed Tuscany region of Italy, Samantha is reexamining her life and her 25-year marriage to Michael. The couple raised three beautiful children together, but now that their kids are grown, their relationship is changing for the worse. After Michael stuns Samantha by revealing a shattering secret, and during their week in Italy, she must decide whether to try to salvage what they have or to strike out on her own. Michael, an ambitious workaholic, had been content to have her in the role of helper, wife, and mother—disregarding her wants and desires and assuming that her unhappiness was a direct attack on his ability to provide. Now Samantha realizes that she must break out of her gilded cage and find her own identity and purpose. The ensuing narrative gives Samantha’s choices the gravitas they deserve as she vacillates between different paths to take. At first, Greenberg struggles with pacing, but the story hits its stride midway through, when Samantha and Michael leave Florence for Venice. Sometimes the author distractingly uses commas when semicolons or full stops would have been more appropriate: “Samantha watched closely as Stefania said goodbye to Michael, hugging him, she leaned in, her smile dripping with Southern charm.” Samantha’s inner monologue is sometimes inconsistent, as well; at one point, she says that she’s “never that good at keeping her feelings in,” but later, she says that “she kept everything inside.” However, the author’s close examination of what happens when a couple loses sight of each other is strong, revealing the difficulty of navigating a troubled relationship. The Italian backdrop is also entrancing.
An earnest but unevenly executed examination of a long-term relationship.