Review by Anissa Telle
The 50Plus Book of the Month for September, chosen by Andrea Peskind Katz from Great Thoughts, Great Readers is:
Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly is a beautiful and sweeping redemptive journey that will keep you eagerly turning the pages as two unlikely strangers come together in the exotic Italian island of Elba.
The Main Characters, Lizzie & Dante
We meet Lizzie, a thirty-two old Shakespearean professor with stage three cancer, and Dante, a talented chef who has others clamoring for reservations to his understated restaurant. These two seem to have little in common, but a whirlwind romance begins. It is the oft-cited daydream come to life. A woman travels to a far-off destination and falls in love with a local citizen. But, this is such a simplistic view of this novel. Bly created an entire world of found family surrounding Lizzie and Dante. Their loved ones add a richness and joy that literally leap off the pages.
The Secondary Characters: Rahan, Grey, Ruby and Etta
I would be remiss if I did not highlight the secondary characters of Rohan, Grey, Ruby, and Etta. These four add such depth to the relationships between Lizzie and Dante. Love cannot exist in a vacuum. As Lizzie said,
“There are knots that cannot be untied, and love makes them.”
You can’t help but picture yourself in this island paradise surrounded by those you love and enjoying the tantalizing creations described in Dante’s kitchen, the songs sung by Lizzie, the antics of Etta, the gyrations between Rohan and Grey, and the beauty treatments from Ruby. Nothing is simple for either Lizzie or Dante, and you obviously hope for a happily ever after despite Lizzie’s looming medical diagnosis. Both characters have secrets that dictated their life path. Bly expertly weaves these secrets and drama throughout with descriptions of the experiences that shaped their current circumstances.
The language and word choices by Bly transport you to a world you will visualize long after you finish the book. She tells this story with true grace and empathy. What could be depressing is truly joyful. Love is not a guarantee, and this book leaves you with the question:
Is one perfect day with someone worth risking your heart if tomorrow is not guaranteed? This is not an easy question, and no spoilers are provided here. What is guaranteed, however, is that Bly created a glorious world in this time of uncertainty to which we can travel without a passport.
I was provided a free advance reader copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest review on Net Galley. The opinions shared in this review are my own.
About the Author: Mary Bly
Mary Bly is a New York Times bestselling author under the name Eloisa James and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, married to a genuine Italian knight.
About Andrea Peskind Katz from GREAT THOUGHTS, GREAT READERS:
Andrea Peskind Katz runs Great Thoughts, Great Readers, a Book Salon presented via her private FB group where approximately 5000 prolific readers and authors interact. She also founded Greatthoughts.com, a lifestyle website blog focusing on Great Books and Great Travel. To quote Robert Frost, she created her “second act” career to “unite my avocation and my vocation”. After 20 years in high pressure sales, Andrea retired to spend time doing what she loves best: hanging with her family, reading good books.
Each month, Andrea chooses a book for 50PlusToday that is either written by or for 50Plus individuals.