LILLIAN and the ITALIANS
Looking for her ‘rolling stone’ son in 1960s Italy, an English widow encounters disturbing revelations and then begins a dangerous romance with a charismatic Sicilian prince.
“I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Italy, romance, danger.” Zoe’s Book Nook
“My favorite character – by far- was Italy. The descriptiveness that Gee bestows on his readers is remarkable. I could hear the water and see the beautiful sights of Venice.” The Book Review Crew
There’s something about this book that just feels beautifully crafted: the world building is careful, deliberate, and thorough: it brings to life a glittering picture of Italy in the 1960s and the complicated codes of conduct that regulate it. The characters too are finely drawn: they’re each so much more complicated than they might seem at first glance, and their stories unfold through a series of revelations and insights that makes them, and their experiences, feel nuanced and real. Lillian gets more and more compelling, the more time she spends on the page, and her search for her son is an exercise in love and growth that it’s impossible not to get caught up in. The Andrew we see through her eyes at first both is and is not the one she finds herself looking for as the story goes on, and that just adds to the overall sense that this is a journey worth going on. US Amazon reviewer
The Story …
Venice, August 1966. Fifty-year-old widow Lillian Rutherford meets the ex-gigolo who has shared the last four years of her son’s life; his disclosures force her to confront a side of Andrew that she never suspected. Going on to Amalfi, she meets the charismatic Prince Massimo Monfalcone, whose playboy son is being held to ransom in Corsica with Andrew. Massimo distracts Lillian with his life story: his first wife was murdered in a Sicilian blood-feud; his second wife killed herself because of his infidelity. As they wait for news of their sons, a bond grows between Lillian and the Prince. A different world – a different life – opens up for her. Is she ready for this?
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Writing LILLIAN …
Lillian and the Italians is intended as a book for women who worry that their lives will “flatline” after their children – or their husbands – leave home. It started when I promised my mother that I would write a novel in which an English widow finds romance and adventure in Italy. Lillian’s girlhood and a late-term miscarriage are taken from my mother’s life story, although she was widowed at an earlier age and Fate did not bring her a Sicilian prince; Alzheimer’s took her down a different road. Lillian and the Italians is the life she should have had.
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This was me on the Amalfi Coast in 2019, the last of many research trips