I was sent "The Villa Girls by Nicky Pellegrino" by Waterstones to review (Available here: The Villa Girls at Waterstones)
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!