Positano, Italy – if you have not visited the place where this novel is set, then you soon will as Serle’s descriptions of this little town on the Amalfi Coast are one of the most captivating things that I will take away from this book – and I’ve already been to the Amalfi Coast. However, the Hotel Poseidon, where Katy Silver, our narrator, finds herself staying during the book is definitely on my list of places that really do need to be seen, lived and enjoyed.
The setting is a treat and the actual story is not bad, although it is difficult to discuss it without spoiling the main conceit of the book. Katy is grieving and her whole life is in question and quandary as a result of the death of her mother. Their mother-daughter relationship is phenomenally close and so, Katy is literally reeling when trying to come to terms with the fact that the person who is the centre of her world is now no longer there- an enormous void is absorbing all of the light and energy and Katy can no longer see a way forward. What is perhaps unusual in this story is that Katy has a husband, Eric, a college sweetheart who she married and thought she loved; however, with her mother’s passing, she is not sure how she feels about anything anymore and in particular, her love for Eric.
Prior to her death, Katy and her mother were planning a joint trip to Positano. Katy still has the tickets and after the funeral, she decides that she will still go but on her own, despite the fact that she has two tickets – no Eric.
And so, we experience Positano through Katy’s eyes. She knows that the place held a special place in her mother’s heart and she has always been keen to see it, but she expected it to be shared experience with the person she loved the most so there is a rawness to it mixed with the excitement of exploration.
The story extends from the people that she meets there and her interactions with two in particular: Carol and Adam. Both extend friendship to her and both are outsiders who love Positano; however, they have very different reasons for being there as Katy discovers.
Warm, surprising and evocative, One Italian Summer is the perfect beach read.