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Italian For Beginners by Kristen Harmel (final thoughts)

October 7, 2010

Steadfast. Constant. Dependable. This is what 34 year old Cat has become, and what everyone around her expects. However, bent on being dependable has caused her to slip into a rut and no matter how vehemently she says she’s happy, no one seems to believe her. Not her dad, her co-workers, or even the handsome stranger from her little sister’s wedding. In burst of spontaneity, Cat takes off to the one place she’s ever really felt happy and free – Italy.

This is going to be short, because I don’t have much to say about Italian for Beginners. Which is also why I put off writing about it for over almost 3 weeks. I really, really, really wanted to love it, or at least find it quirky and fun. But I couldn’t really get into it. Mostly it was Cat who bugged me. I mean, who takes off to Italy to stay with someone they haven’t seen or heard from in 10 years??! And expects the reunion to go well?? Needless to say, it doesn’t go well at all, not that she deserved the awful welcome she ended up getting.

Italian for Beginners did win me over slightly in the end, when Cat inevitably found herself and what makes her happy. I also liked the Roman Holiday references, which made me want to drop the book and watch the movie. However, overall it was a disappointing read for me. I know other people have really liked this book, so maybe I was just in the wrong mood for it.

My rating: 6.5/10

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2010 2:17 pm

    Ok, the premise for me just doesn’t work. I can anything good coming out of that. Sorry this one didn’t work out.

  2. October 7, 2010 4:07 pm

    What a bummer! I love the idea of it, since I heart Italy, and I’ve seen this book in the store — I kept thinking about getting it every single time I picked it up, but…nah…Not if you don’t like it!

  3. October 7, 2010 10:06 pm

    So, she hasn’t seen the guy in 10 years and she expects to stay with him? Yeah, right.

    I suppose they had to “justify” her being in Italy alone, instead of just letting her make a grand escape to a hotel from the get-go?

    • October 7, 2010 11:05 pm

      Well, initially she was going to stay in a hotel, but a sudden loss of money right before she leaves (ie. lending to her sister) leads her to stay with this guy. To be fair, she does see some of the madness in it, but thinks it will all work out.

      Yeah, I think it was mostly a way to get her to Italy.

  4. October 10, 2010 7:03 pm

    Some protagonists are just cruising for a bruising, aren’t they? I hate it when a protagonist has to be very dumb in order for the plot to work–that means the plot doesn’t work!

    (Apropos of nothing, my friends and I have concluded that Roman Holiday is a story about Queen Clarice from The Princess Diaries.)

  5. October 17, 2010 12:07 pm

    Oh yeah. That definitely doesn’t sound like something a 34 year old would do. Now at 21, I may have tried that. But at 34? No way Jose.

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