Date: 12th April 2016
Format: Paperback ARC
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
Stella has life under control - and that's the way she likes it. For twenty-five years, she's been trusted assistant to a legendary fashion designer, but after her boss dies suddenly, she's left with nothing to do apart from clear the studio.
It seems as though the life she wanted has vanished. She is lost - until one day she finds a house swap website and sees a beautiful old villa in a southern Italian village. Could she really exchange her poky London flat for that?
But what was intended as just a break becomes much more, as Stella finds herself trying on a stranger's life. As the villa begins to get under her skin, she can't help but imagine the owner from the clues around her. She meets his friends, cooks the local food he recommends and follows suggestions to go to his favourite places. But can an idea of someone ever match up to the reality?
As Stella wonders if she can let go of the safety of her past, perhaps there's a chance for her to find a way into her future...
Under Italian Skies - another wonderful read from talented author Nicky Pellegrino. This book transports you to a small place in Italy, and wraps you round with the Italian way of life that has nothing to do with a touristy view.
Stella house swaps and finds herself in the small town of Triento in a villa perched atop a steep hillside. Her life as she has known it has finished, and she is unsure of where it will lead next. She is willing to take a risk, step out of her comfort zone and do something different. This time in Italy is like a time in a cocoon for her, and what will emerge at the end of it is something completely new.
Stella is a kind of a catalyst for some of the local people she befriends in this place. There is Tosca - an older woman with some experience of being a movie star, a bit of a diva, but with a sadness within. Then there is Raphaela who owns a trattoria, for whom food is her way of life, yet she still mourns her departed and beloved husband. Raphaela and Tosca have been life long friends and know how to 'manage' each other.
Francesca is the woman that runs the linen shop in the village. She is an interesting character - somewhat manipulative, but as her story unfolds I have to say I found some sympathy for her. Then there of course is Leo - the man Stella is house swapping with. They begin to build a relationship with each other through email. Leo has left Stella with a way of exploring the local area that is utterly charming.
If you are a food lover this book is for you. I'm not, but it still didn't prevent my envying the richness of the love of food and family this book portrays. The passion that a true cook brings to their meal preparation had my mouth watering many a time.
I loved the characters, many of them dealing with the issues of living and supporting each other with friendship and love. I gave a sigh of disappointment as I turned the page - and found there was no more. Always the sign that a book and its characters have really connected with me.
About the author: When Nicky Pellegrino's Italian father fell in love with and married a Liverpool girl, he shared what all Italians know - that you live to eat instead of eating to live. This mantra is the inspiration behind Nicky's delicious novels. Nicky hoards her holiday time so that she and her husband can return to Italy to meet up with family, eat the best mozzarella and research her books. She now lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Web: Nicky Pellegrino
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