I received a free review copy from the publisher (Harper Books) in exchange for an honest review.
“Duty-bound love is the Italian girl’s area of expertise. The Italian woman is a master craftsman at the art of sacrifice. But love, romantic, wild, impetuous, unguarded, and free? Chi Chi had never experienced it. Love had always been about him: making his life better, shoring up his confidence, pushing him out into the world to succeed.”
With the book spanning almost 70 years in the lives of Saverio and Chi Chi, learning about their Italian heritage and their shared dream of success in music sounds like the perfect formula for an outstanding story.
The book falls somewhere in the middle for me, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. I was thrown a bit by the brief narrative of Saverio (stage name Tony Arma), his complicated (if you want to call it that) relationship with his father, but assumed we would come back to him from time to time. When he leaves his father’s home at 16, the rift between them grows and pushes them further apart.
Saverio finds success in music, meets Chi Chi one summer, and eventually they work together traveling and making music for the band. Chi Chi is an ambitious business woman and I admired her work ethic. Unlike other women who sing with the band, Chi Chi remains focused on her work and doesn’t seem to be interested in settling down, getting married, having a family. She’s a brilliant songwriter and views Tony as a friend, since both of them are Italian. She speaks to him with candor and honesty about the way he treats women. Later on, Tony enlist in the Navy and while he is away fighting in the war, apart from Chi Chi he realizes he’s in love with her.
From the synopsis on the back of the book, you know Chi Chi and Tony will get married. But that doesn’t occur to well past the halfway point of the book.
Then again, the story is about his wife, Chi Chi. She has been reluctant to give up her career and what she enjoys but convinced herself that with her and Tony things would be differ. She’s sacrificed much to be a wife, mother, and support to her family, while Tony seems oblivious to what it really means to love someone and be a real family.
“She gave you who she was, her creative self, her highest dreams, her deepest desires, and purpose in order to love him.”
Overall I didn’t love this book, I didn’t hate it either. I just felt like the pace at the beginning was too slow for how things wrapped up in the end. I’m not sure if I will read anything else by the author. I remember feeling like this when I read The Shoemaker’s Wife a few years ago. I also just moved a book off my shelf to the donate pile because it seems like I have the same overall feeling and impression with the authors books to date.
Have you read any books from this author? How do you feel about reviewing books that you didn’t care for?
I hesitated to post this review since I have a few others I’m trying to finish up but thought it might be worth discussing the last question, writing about books you don’t care for, easy, hard or somewhere in between?