It’s August and the thirteenth century Castello della Luna in Tuscany, owned and run as a writers retreat by Patricia O’Hara, assisted by seventy five year old Aldo (the region’s best chef) and Matt, her teenage son, is getting ready to receive its next seven summer residents.
There’s Cat, the yummy mummy/blogger who knows she just needs to get away from her husband and children to “release the writer I know is inside me”; Anna, Cat’s best friend, has already had a few short stories published. Sam is a burnt out City exec who wonders how hard can it be to write a bestseller and get rich, quick. He just has to find the right genre, and that’s the problem; Sally, a landscape gardener by profession has a huge crush on the tutor, she’s attended all of his Creative Writing courses at the Castello; retired civil servant Mary, wants to learn more about Tuscany and “make some progress with my writing”; also wishing to hone his writing skills is attractive French lawyer Jean-Pierre and finally there’s Mary an American home-maker looking to find closure by writing about her childhood.
Rounding off the list of Castello residents is Jeremy the course tutor, who wrote a bestselling, self- help book many years ago but hasn’t written anything since and Myra who teaches yoga and relaxation techniques to the guests, to get the creative juices flowing.
Mustn’t forget Fabio, the new mysterious handyman, with a secret of his own.
Despite charging each guest three thousand euros for the two week course Patricia is facing mounting maintenance costs and is under pressure from the bank.
Will this be the last summer at the Castello, which she and her ex - husband Sean so lovingly restored? Perhaps Rick, Dorothy’s oil baron husband will be her saviour?
Each day, to take the pressure off the budding writers, Patricia schedules a trip for her guests; visits to Siena and Rome; wine tasting at a neighbouring vineyard or shopping in the village market.
The highlight of the fortnight is the Ferragosto, the Feast of the Assumption, a day of celebration throughout Italy.
In the evening there’s always a special dinner at one of the restaurants in San Severino followed by a grand firework finale, the highlight of the guests’ visit to Tuscany.
I enjoyed reading Summer School, the story moves along well with unexpected visitors, secrets revealed and a scary Castello legend adding to the plot ; the characters are well drawn and the descriptive passages, of Siena especially, evoke the Italy I remember from our visits in the 1990’s.
An easy summer read, it does what it says on the cover.
Perfect for a lazy, hazy day in the sun.
This is my first review for the "Italy in Books Reading Challenge 2011" hosted by Brighton Blogger @ Book After Book.
If you're a fan of Italy, or would just like some great book recommendations, why not take a look at Book After Book, I think it's a blog you'd enjoy.
"What We're Reading" party on the 20th of this month, hosted once again by Bonnie.
Some other books I've enjoyed recently and would happily recommend are:
Various Flavours of Coffee - Anthony Capella.
Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran
Crazy Ladies- Michael Lee West
Future Homemakers of America - Laurie Graham.