Richard Paul Evans teaches us how to love again.
Perhaps figuring that not quite enough has been written about the bellissimo Italian countryside and the ability of two damaged individuals to find love in spite of all obstacles, author Evans (The Locket, 1998, etc.) presents the story of Ross and Eliana. Once called Ellen back in her small Utah town, Eliana is now the wife of Maurizio, the Italian who swept her off her feet before becoming a philandering pig, and the mother of sweet, asthmatic Alessio. Ross Story (yes, that’s right) is an American with a Dark Secret who comes to the Chianti countryside after wandering Italy In Search of Himself. Once an ad exec back in Minneapolis, Ross now conducts tours of the Uffizi museum and lives next door to Eliana. She’s trapped in her marriage—Maurizio won’t divorce her and says that even if she leaves, the sexist Italian court system won’t let her take Alessio with her—and Ross seems to have a lot on his mind too (though exactly what<\I> isn’t revealed until dramatically necessary). A chaste flirtation between Ross and Eliana (helped along by the fact that Maurizio’s stereotypical self is always out of town sleeping with other women) blossoms into a chaste romance, Maurizio’s Passionate Mediterranean Soul burns with jealousy, every woman in the land swoons over the strong but sensitive Ross and the spirit of God is ever present over all the gentle goings-on. There are also enough Italian tips to stock a good pocket-sized phrasebook and some bottled art-history lessons that don’t overly tax the brain (Ross is a tour guide, after all).
One wonders why Evans bothered sending his American lovers-to-be all the way to Italy when they could have just fallen in love in the States, but no matter. Either way, this shameless wallow is just begging to be mocked.