10.5.13

THE SIXTEEN PLEASURES & THE ITALIAN LOVER, by Robert Helenga

Wow! What great books! I was browsing the stacks and came upon this author, and loved how the main character just leaped off the page into my head. I knew this woman! American Margot Harrington, a book restoration expert, goes to flood-devastated Florence to help recover the immense cache of almost-ruined art. The year is 1982. Margot has a brief fling with a selfish, nasty professor (who wear Harvard boxer shorts, yet), then enters a convent. Why? You must read this to find out. You will not be disappointed. It’s a 5+.
The sequel, The Italian Lover, visits Margot twenty-five years later. She’s a respected book conservator (I love the passages dealing with this esoteric subject), still in Florence, about to embark on a new love affair and a life-changing association with a movie being made from (kind of) her memoir. Aside from a marvelous story, the individual journeys of all the characters, journeys many of us have taken perhaps without even knowing it, are beautifully, tenderly, exquisitely drawn. Another 5+; perfect for a book group. For all the provocative titles, sex is not where it's at; I'll give them a 1.