Under the Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft: Secrets, betrayals, family dramas, unexpected romance, and friendships - book review -
With Italy still effectively off limits for UK holidaymakers, why not bask in the Umbrian sunshine that radiates from the pages of Sue Moorcroft’s sizzling summer adventure?
Simply picture a sun-baked terrace, the gentle rustle of vines, and the clink of wine glasses… and the scene is set for an Italian-flavoured tale of mystery and romance that will lift your spirits and chase away the gloom.
A bestselling author of enthralling feel-good fiction and a past vice-chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Moorcroft packs everything you could possible want from an escapist read into this emotionally-charged, bright and beautiful story.
Stealing our hearts and bringing us a family mystery that will intrigue and enthral is the wonderfully named Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers whose mother died without ever revealing the identity of Zia’s father, but whose truths are almost certainly hidden somewhere in Italy.
After her free-spirited mother, Vicky Chalmers, died in a tragic accident when Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers was ten, the girl went to live with her grandparents but grew up with many unanswered questions, not least how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.
Her beloved grandparents have both died and the only way Zia, now aged 30, thinks she can find clues to her father’s identity is by looking through memorabilia stored in the attic of her flat in Brighton.
And what she finds hidden in an old suitcase turns all that Zia thought she knew about herself upside down. Soon Zia and her best friend, tattoo artist Ursula, are heading off on a summer journey of discovery to seek out a family called Costa and a place called Montelibertà in the rugged Umbrian mountains.
Zia hopes that she will at long last find the Italian family she has never known but one of the first people she meets is Piero Domenicali, owner of the vineyard next door to the Costa estate where she and Ursula are staying.
But Piero, a dazzling and creative Italian who immediately captures Zia’s eye, is in the middle of a complex battle over the future of his family’s vineyard, and the planned sale of his home, Il Refugio, which Piero is desperate to keep.
The heat is on, and not just for Zia and Piero, as a haze of scheming and skulduggery descends on lovely Montelibertà.
What an enchanting trip to Umbria Moorcroft gifts us as Zia finally catches up with her family’s complicated past and she works her way through the trials and tribulations (both her own and Piero’s) that seem somehow to litter their paths to happiness.
Secrets, betrayals, family dramas, unexpected romance, and friendships are tucked away in almost every corner of this fantastic Italian odyssey as the often faltering love between the now rootless Zia and handsome hunk Piero slowly starts to blossom amidst the vines and the blazing bougainvillea.
And with the fate of both Piero’s beautiful home and the Costa family’s neighbouring property constantly under threat, the stakes are always as high as the temperatures in this perfectly imagined mystery.
A fabulous armchair holiday in one of Europe’s most popular destinations!
(Avon, paperback, £7.99)