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4.2 out of 5 stars33
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Rose lives in London and is orphaned when her parents die in a car accident. She has three female friends and they become the "villa girls" who go on holiday to stay in villas in various sunny countries every year or so. Enzo lives on an olive estate in South Italy which he will one day inherit. Their stories unfold in dual storylines which eventually intersect when they meet on holiday. This is an easy read that's fairly predictable but is still a lovely, summery story with more shade to it than you initially expect.

Rose's storyline was immediately absorbing for me, but Enzo's takes a little while to get going. What really shines however are the gorgeous descriptions of southern Italy and the mouth watering descriptions of Italian food - this book will make you hungry!!! If you can't get to Italy on holiday, this is the next best thing - and if you are going, this would be an ideal companion.

If you've read other books by Nicky Pellegrino you will recognise many of the characters and settings, but this is a standalone novel.
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on 23 October 2011
The chapters in this book alternate between "Rosie" (A recently orphaned girl who is understandably a bit lost in the world) and "The Olive Estate" (where we meet Enzo and his traditional Italian family). I found this a little frustrating at first, as although it allows the author to build the story of both characters gradually, I often found myself having to switch my attention from one character to another just as I'd begun to really get into reading about one of their lives. However, after a while, it begins to flow better and it does keep the pages turning. By half way through the book, I quite enjoyed the switching and as the two characters lives collide, it brings a deeper insight to each person's views.

At the end of each of Rosie's chapters, there is a short addition from Addolorata's (a friend of Rosie) perspective (either in the form of a journal entry or `what she said') - I liked this, and thought it added something different.

Italy features heavily in both Rosie and Enzo's chapters. Firstly the Olive Estate is in Southern Italy and secondly, Addolorata is part of an Italian family who run an Italian restaurant in London. As Rosie and Addolorata's friendship grows, Rosie soon becomes part of Addolorata's family and it is heart-warming to read. The book explores both Italian family life and the vibrant flavours of Italian food extremely well.

The book is a good illustration that so many of us have the lives we actually lead and those we dream of leading. It's based heavily around family, friendship and real life, and this overpowers the romance element. As expected, it is a fairly predictable story, so don't expect twists and turns throughout that will keep you guessing. The book has a fairly leisurely pace, although some parts of the story are dealt with in just a few pages which at times seems a little strange. However, if you like leisurely reads, you'll get along with this book just fine. Ideal for light reading whilst on holiday!
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VINE VOICEon 11 November 2012
Holidays are meant as a break, as an escape from the normal humdrum way of life. For Rosie, Lou, Toni and Addolorata it is the beginning of a lifelong friendship which is punctuated by these holidays away together. The first is when they are eighteen and go to a villa in Majorca. This is not your typical group of friends, they seem to have come together by accident more than design. For Rosie, the main character in this book, she is the last one in, the outsider. More so by the fact that she is orphaned and the others have no idea what to do or say. Rosie has her own ideas about life and as the book progresses you see how she starts to find her way for herself, realising that she perhaps does need the strength of family love behind her. Even if it is not her own family.

From Rosie's story, we alternate into Enzo's story. Enzo is the complete opposite of Rosie, he has everything that she does not. Parents, siblings, a future, a path in life but just like Rosie he does not have love. Enzo is the first son of an olive oil estate in Italy. We learn about how life works in Italy for such a well known family and the way that simple Sunday evening walks are seen as parading the best girls from families to be snatched up by the best boys. This is a marriage market without the title.

But then four girls arrive in the Italian countryside, on one of their holidays to a villa they catch the eye of Enzo and his friends. Does Enzo see a way out of a structured life that he has coming and does Rosie see a way into a structured life that she secretly wants but will not admit to? Or is it just a holiday romance?

When Toni, one of Rosie's friends witnesses something whilst visiting the estate that Enzo has invited them to, it changes the path for all of them. Life now has to go very differently and the present very quickly becomes the past. But there still seems to be issues to be resolved.

If Rosie goes back without knowing, will she ever find what she is looking for?

The story takes a while to get going for me, mainly because we swapped characters in each chapter and I felt that not enough time was being given on building their background story. However, once you overcome this and I did so within the first 60 pages or so, the story gets going and it becomes a good read. Nicky Pellegrino somehow manages to make you want to jump in the book and eat the food that she is describing, to be sat round a big table whilst the food is brought on a somewhat continuous conveyor belt. Eating is an occasion in Italy, and Nicky reflects this very well. You can taste it, you can smell it, you can feel the sun on your back whilst you watch it all grow.

If you have never read any of Nicky's work before then this is a good place to start. Be grateful you can experience all this rich food without putting on one calorie!
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on 16 July 2011
Nicky Pellegrino has done it again. As a reader, you are made to feel as if you are on an Italian coast, running into the characters and experiencing the joys and heartache.
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on 5 September 2013
Was a truly amazing love story
The first book I have read of hers and not the last

A brilliant 5 stat book with a twist
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on 9 March 2013
This was a good book it hooked you in straight away with you wanting to find out more about the characters. I liked the way it moved from the main female character to the main male character as it was interesting to see the story from both points of view. It would have been nice to see more description of the scenery particularly when they were in Italy, this would have drawn you further into the story. Overall though I did enjoy the book
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on 28 October 2013
This was my second book from the same author, and I got bored, in the beginning was ok, but going into the story, you just get lost, and in the end it is a bit disappointing and at the same time, it seems like a rush final. For teenagers it might be a very interesting book. For adults it is just boring.
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on 3 September 2013
Good descriptions of London, and later Italy. Almost felt as if you were there with the girls. Would recommend this book for a relaxing read when travelling or having some time out. Loved the descriptions of different foods and cultures. Good research, made this book believable.
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on 11 July 2014
I loved this book! I read it in one day whilst on holiday and found it hard to put down. The descriptions of food etc made it seem realistic, and I could identify with the emotion of the main characters. It was easy reading and I shed a few tears at the end - soppy old me!
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on 27 February 2013
I have liked all Nicky Pellegrino's books. They are easy to read but have quite a lot of depth to them. Some are interlinked with other books by her so the characters reappear which helps to bind the books together.
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