Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: A Roman Holiday

One summer in high school, I don't think I read anything but chick-lit. And now, I don't even remember the last time I read it. But, I went to the beach and what could be more perfect, especially for someone like me who frequently dozes off and therefore can't read anything that requires a lot of focus?

Kristin Harmel's Italian for Beginners is another one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf since I won it in a giveaway last summer. It's about a 30-something woman named Cat who is single, living in Manhattan, and has absolutely nothing exciting in her life. I mean, from the start you want to like this character but you quickly realize she is BORING; she's done nothing interesting since she studied abroad in Rome thirteen years ago. At her younger sister's wedding, Cat gets humiliated by Grandma and, with a push from her nearest and dearest, decides to take a four-week long vacation to Rome and reunite with her former Italian flame.

Well it's no surprise that Francesco turns out to be a dud (I'm not spoiling anything; it's on the back of the book), and Cat must now find her own way in a city all alone for four weeks. Enter a cast of eccentric characters and a setting fit for a movie (oh wait, it is...it's called Roman Holiday), and we have a story about woman who finds herself taking risks for a life she never expected.

When I started reading this, I said to myself, "Oh dear god, I don't know if I'm going to make it." It's not that I'm criticizing chick-lit, it's just that it has a language of its own. I'm sure it is a more accurate interpretation of my verbal skills on a daily basis than, say, Faulkner, but it is not a language I have encountered in a novel in quite a long time. However, chick-lit did what it always does...and it sucked me in. And for a genre I usually find predictable, I was actually anticipating and guessing how it would end.

Italian for Beginners is good for a quick, enjoyable read [perfect for that SPRING READING I have been talking about]. I'm adding Harmel to my list of go-to fun authors because sometimes, you just gotta get lost in some chick-lit. Right Sal and Colin?


colin said...

I love the Faulkner's work is the example of all that is difficult and dense in literature. I think he'd be proud of that.

And yes, one cannot deny the awesome and engrossing power of chick-lit. Though I prefer chick-flicks.


Kari said...

No you don't...you constantly insult my taste in movies!

Salvatore said...

Bridget Jones. Though I'm sending that series to the Book Barn...

Kathy (bermudaonion) said...

I"m so glad you enjoyed this since it's in my TBR pile. Hopefully we'll get a pretty day, so I can sit out on my porch and read it.

rachelknowles said...

I know what you mean about chick-lit often not challenging one's intellect nor being entertaining. I have just published my first novel and while it is chick-lit, there's an underlying philosophical base which the reader can ignore if they want a quick surface-level read, or delve into and discover a few more revelations. That's what I want from chick-lit, so hopefully that's what others want to! It's called "Extra Virgin" and is for sale on Amazon if anyone's interested!