By Kimberly Menozzi While organising the “Italy in Books” reading challenge, someone on Twitter suggested that I read Ask Me If I’m Happy, debut novel of American-born Kimberly Menozzi. Curious, I started reading her blog and I was instantly hooked on her fresh and witty writing style. So much, in fact, that I just had to invite her to be a guest blogger on Book After Book!
It was with trepidation that this month I picked up my copy of Ask Me If I’m Happy and started reading. Having developed great expectations, I was concerned that I might end up being disappointed. I’m glad to report that I needn’t have worried!
Ask Me If I’m Happy opens on the last day that the Emily Miller ever intends to spend in Italy. Following a whirlwind romance and an excruciatingly difficult marriage with Italian playboy Jacopo, she is looking forward to leaving her adoptive country behind and starting afresh in America. Italian train strikes, however, are unforgiving and Emily finds herself stranded in Bologna on her way to the airport in Milan.
It is while Emily is giving in to panic that, in the best knight-in-shining-armour tradition, Davide Magnani makes his appearance. A fellow passenger, he couldn’t help but notice the sad-looking American and he is inexplicably overwhelmed by the urge to help her and make sure that she reaches her destination safely. He has never met her before and yet he wants – needs, almost – to make her happy.
Despite Emily’s initial reserve, the two of them spend a wonderful day together in Bologna, Davide’s hometown. So wonderful that, in less than 24 hours since first laying eyes on each other, Cupid seems to have struck his arrow. Suddenly, that America-bound plane stops being so appealing. There is no doubt that Davide would like Emily to stay in Italy. Is she ready though?
And this is where I’m going to stop because I don’t want to give away too much. I want you to read this book and experience first-hand the joy of getting to know Kimberly’s tri-dimensional characters. You will cheer their bravery and be frustrated when they can’t see what is in front of their eyes. At times, their romance will seem too good to be true, but Emily and Davide are such credible characters that you will be happy to suspend your disbelief and dream along.
And what can I say about the way Italy is portrayed? Simply. Brilliant. Italy is very much the third main character of this novel. Sometimes it sits quietly in the background and sometimes it comes forward in all its splendour. The exaltation of food flavours and textures, the colourful descriptions of people and places… they all help create a genuine picture of Italy, which is not idyllic in any way.
Kimberly’s Italy is a place with flaws as well as merits. It is a country that can annoy you as well as make you fall in love with it. To accomplish this, you need talent. And Mrs Menozzi has plenty of it!
Come back tomorrow for exclusive insight into the world of Ask Me If I'm Happy...