Flirting In Italian
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Copy courtesy of the publisher
When Violet finds a 1700s painting with a subject that could be her identical twin, she’s stunned and intrigued. Always feeling like she was the odd one out in her family, with her tall, very thin former model Scandinavian mother and her sandy haired and freckled father, Violet and her distinctly Mediterranean looks are definitely a mystery. She vows to find out more about this painting and about the family, and she comes up with a way to do it that involves spending two months in Italy. There’s a summer course that is run just nearby to the former home of the painter, now occupied by his modern-day relatives. Violet packs her bags, says goodbye to her hysterical mother and heads to Tuscany.
Upon arriving she meets the other 3 girls taking the course – Kelly, a fellow English girl who is from an underprivileged background and is taking the course to look good on her application to a prestigious college, and Kendra and Paige, two confident and brash Americans. At first it’s English vs American until the two girls band together under the disdainful eye of the daughter of the house where they’re staying, the impossibly thin and very condescending Elisa.
In between learning some Italian, flower arranging and art, there is partying with local, good-looking boys and working on their tans in the Tuscan sun. Violet has had little chance to investigate the reason she came until their host takes them over to the very place she wants to go and everyone is amazed at how similar she looks to the current Principessa’s sister-in-law. It is yet another piece of a puzzle that Violet doesn’t know how to begin to solve. She is still no closer to knowing the identity of the mystery girl in the painting and clearly this is a look that has traveled down the generations as her resemblance to the SIL of the Principessa shows. And then there is Luca, the son of the current Principe and Principessa… arrogant, handsome Luca. They share a kiss but it seems as though someone else is being groomed to become his wife. And there is also the possibility that Violet’s digging into her possible connection with this family could have some shattering consequences.
Flirting In Italian promised fun, beautiful scenery and gorgeous boys. It sounded like a perfect summer release (which it actually isn’t for me, being upside down here in Australia like I am) and the cover is attractive and eye-catching. I was very excited about this one and it’s definitely the sort of book that you can easily read in a single sitting.
Violet is partially questioning her identity but there’s also a huge part of her that doesn’t want to know the answer to the question she may be too scared to pose. She’s always known that she’s not like the women in her family, who are tall, very thin and very pale blonde, classic Scandinavian beautiful looks. Her father, who left the family some years ago and moved halfway across the world also looks different and Violet isn’t sure where her petite, curvy, dark looks come from. She thinks a mysterious painting may hold all the answers for her and she comes up with a way to investigate this without her mother having a single clue what she’s really doing. The chance of her being possibly adopted or not her father’s biological daughter have crossed her mind but only fleetingly, distantly. So she packs her bags for Tuscany.
I really enjoyed the four girls, the two British and two American, navigating an early stand off and then tentative alliance. I enjoyed all of them as characters and thought their lack of immediate friendship and slow move towards it was quite realistic. Throw four teenage girls together and there’s always going to be some tensions and bitchiness! But the way in which they band together against a common enemy provides some humour, as do the local boys who show up to fawn all over the foreign girls. Violet is immediately drawn to Luca, a moody, darkly handsome young man who doesn’t bother to lay on the thick charm like the others. Things are complicated by Luca’s enigmatic friendship with Elisa and also the fact that he is part of the family Violet is investigating.
Whilst I enjoyed this book, I did feel a bit let down by the romance and also by the end of the book. This is partially my own fault, as I didn’t realise that it was the first book with a sequel to come, but I felt like the ending was extremely abrupt and came out of nowhere. I got to the end of the book and was shocked at the lacklustre and unsatisfactory way in which the book ended. I know there’s another to come but I think that Violet made so little enquiries into something that is apparently important to her when she had ample time to do so, it’s like when she arrived in Italy she almost forgot why she was even there in the first place. I expected a little more than we were given, which was basically just her odd resemblance to the SIL of the current Principessa.
As for the romance, I didn’t find Luca all that interesting as a possible love match. At times he’s rude and abrupt but this doesn’t seem to be balanced out very well with the cute moments I’m used to in YA stories. It was just a bit disappointing although I will read the next book to see where things go for Violet both with her search and with her and Luca.
Book #105 of 2012