Review published on June 2, 2017.
This would be a good choice for a long flight or a lazy holiday this summer. It is intriguing enough to keep you wanting to know what happens, but not too demanding in terms of plot or keeping track of different characters. The holiday feel comes from the setting of Rome and you do feel as though you are there – eating pizza in a busy square with fountains and scooters or admiring an imposing palazzo.
The story is mainly about two women. Elena comes from a wealthy family and has been married several times. Cesca has given up her job in London and is working as a tour guide in Rome. When Cesca finds and returns Elena’s stolen handbag, they find out they can help each other by Cesca writing Elena’s memoirs. This was the part I enjoyed most, where we have alternate chapters showing the reality of Elena’s early life in America and her disastrous marriages contrasted with chapters where she describes this to Cesca in very different terms. Gradually, Cesca discovers the truth about Elena’s life story and manages to fall in love along the way.
I did find some of the plot unrealistic, especially the last twist, but it has great atmosphere, interesting characters and an easy style. Although I would call it a light read, there is quite a lot for groups to discuss, especially the plausibility of some of the plot details.
Berwyn Peet 4/3
The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
Pan 9781509838028 pbk Jul 2017
Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett