Italian for Beginners Review
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Cat Connelly isn’t getting any younger. Single and just weeks away from her 35th birthday, Cat has spent most of her life caring for her father and her younger sister, Becky—and she hasn’t left any time for herself.

After suffering through the humiliation of her little sister’s wedding—and after a promising first date goes horribly wrong—Cat starts thinking back to the one time in her life when she truly got to enjoy herself. It was 13 years ago, on a summer in Rome. That’s when she met Francesco, the gorgeous Italian who swept her off her feet.

On a whim, Cat emails Francesco, and when he actually replies, sounding eager to see her again, Cat decides to take a chance—to take a month off work and spend some time taking care of herself (and maybe reigniting an old flame, too). But when things don’t go quite as she expected, Cat finds herself on a life-changing adventure in the Eternal City.

Like her last novel, The Art of French Kissing, Kristin Harmel’s Italian for Beginners is an elegant European vacation—as warm and enjoyable as a warm summer breeze. As you read about Cat’s adventures on the streets of Rome, you’ll imagine that you’re there, too—wandering through the shadowed alleyways, zipping past the Colosseum on a Vespa, and sipping espresso alfresco beside the Pantheon.

The story is closely connected to the 1953 Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday. If you’ve seen the movie (and, especially if you love the movie), the frequent references to the movie will make you smile. The book will take you back to your favorite scenes from the movie—and, once you’ve finished reading, you’re sure to pull the DVD off your shelf and watch it again. If, however, you’ve never seen the movie, you might get lost in the numerous references.

As is often the case in chick lit, the plot is pretty predictable (and more than a little bit obvious); there aren’t a whole lot of surprises here. The set-up, too, sometimes feels a bit too contrived—from the unnaturally awkward moments at Cat’s sister’s wedding to the horrible end to the perfect date, which finally sends Cat running off to Rome.

Still, what it lacks in originality, it easily makes up in ambiance. Its beautiful, historic setting makes for a dreamy read—as does the sweet story about facing your past, finding yourself, and following your dreams. So if your plans call for a late-summer staycation this year, be sure to pick up a copy of Italian for Beginners for your vacation reading. Even if you’re passing the time on your front porch, it’ll make you feel like you’re thousands of miles away.

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