A rare, beautiful read. This book presents a complicated, nonlinear love story that leaves you just as confused as the protagonists. It proves that life and love are never clear cut. However, Trigiani holds onto the belief that in the end love, though complex and often illogical, is somehow still right. The main character Ciro proclaims early on that, “Love is the only dream worth pursuing.” However, this dream will prove much harder to attain than he had once thought.
The story tackles issues ranging from the merits of beauty versus character in a woman, to the seemingly hypocritical actions of the Catholic Church. Ciro, a young man who believes woman are his religion, and his brother Eduardo, a serious young man who chooses the pious life of a priest, provide the perfect contrast. Neither is presented as better than the other, but they both provide an interesting study of the priorities we hold, and how they shape the choices we make. In a wise conversation a sister at the convent where the boys grow up explains, “A cassock does not make a man a priest, any more than a fine dress makes a woman truly beautiful- or good or generous or intelligent. Don’t confuse the way someone looks with the way they are. Grace is a rare thing. I wear a habit not because I am pious but because I’m trying to be.”
Along with a compelling storyline Trigiani provides an exquisite backdrop. The story begins in the Italian Alps, and her images of northern Italy rival even the best descriptions of the iconic southern cities, “Primavera in the Italian Apls was like a jewelry box opened in sunlight. Clusters of red peonies like ruffles of taffeta framed pale green fields, while wild white orchids climbed up the glittering graphite mountain walls. The first buds of white allium lined the trail as clusters of pink rhododendron blossoms burst through the dark green foliage.” Trigiani captures the beauty of the countryside in a way that would make anyone eager to board a plane and experience if for themselves (yes, myself included).