A Dream of Italy written by Nicky Pellegrino, publisher Orion, is available NOW in ebook and audiobook format. The paperback is due for release on Thursday 8th August 2019.
To buy link: https://amzn.to/33aAAFL
For sale: historic building in the picturesque town of Montenello, southern Italy. Asking price: 1 Euro
Cloudless skies, sun-soaked countryside, delicious food… In the drowsy heat of an Italian summer, four strangers arrive in a beautiful town nestled in the mountains of Basilicata, dreaming of a new adventure. An innovative scheme by the town’s Mayor has given them the chance to buy a crumbling historic building for a single Euro – on the condition that they renovate their home within three years, and help to bring new life to the close-knit local community.
Elise is desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he feels suffocated by. Mimi is determined to start afresh after her divorce. And there’s one new arrival whose true motives are yet to be revealed…
For each of them, Montenello offers a different promise of happiness. But can they turn their dream of Italy into reality? A deliciously escapist summer read, perfect for fans of Jo Thomas.
I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of the paperback of Nicky Pellegrino’s latest novel: A Dream of Italy. I have the privilege of sharing an extract from the novel with you:
The Silver Divorcees met on the second Wednesday of every month. There were times Mimi felt as if the only thing keeping her going was the prospect of gathering in some cheap and cheerful restaurant and drinking too much wine as all of them talked at once. The few occasions over the past couple of years that she could recall laughing properly were her Silver Divorcee evenings.
Despite the name not one of them had silver hair. All were tended to regularly by skilful colourists, a couple were Botoxed, and at least one was keeping a cosmetic surgeon busy. Still they were a social phenomenon, apparently, part of a rising tide of middle-aged couples deciding to divorce after decades of putting up with one another.
‘These are the new freedom years,’ Mimi’s closest friend Sinead declared. ‘The kids have left home, we’re financially secure and we don’t have to deal with anyone’s dropped socks. This is our time and we’re not going to spend it cleaning up after other people.’
Mimi wasn’t especially buoyed by those remarks. Her friend’s situation was entirely different to hers. Sinead was the one who had walked away from her marriage, striking out for freedom and independence, determined she wasn’t going to spend another minute with the nice but dull man who had been by her side for the past thirty years.
‘Fuck that,’ Sinead said (she swore more now she was divorced). ‘Perhaps the two of us had something in common once but we don’t any more. I want my life back.’
Mimi, on the other hand, had been happily married; at least, she had thought so. With their two sons gone to university, she and Glenn had been making plans to move out of London and build their dream house somewhere leafy and green. Glenn had seemed as enthusiastic about the idea as she was. They used to sit together watching Grand Designs and talk about how they might manage something similar. So when Glenn told her he had rented an apartment because their relationship had run its course and it was time for a fresh start, Mimi had been rocked.
He refused couple’s counselling and only offered her clichés. He still loved Mimi but he wasn’t in love with her. He needed some space. He wanted a new life.
And so her husband moved out, and Mimi was left behind in their old life, alone in the family house surrounded by all their shared stuff. She spent a lot of time rearranging things, trying to make the place seem more her own. Buying a new bed, shifting the sofas, painting a feature wall and filling the living room with plants – none of it helped much.
‘Just sell the house, settle up with him and move on,’ Sinead urged her.
Mimi could see the sense in this advice but not how to follow it. ‘Move on where?’
‘Your work isn’t keeping you in London, is it? You could go absolutely anywhere.’
‘That’s the problem,’ Mimi said.
Sinead was an incurable solver of other people’s problems. ‘Go and live in a little village somewhere just like you were planning to before the break-up,’ she advised.
‘Which village, though? I can’t just stick a pin into a map.’
‘I don’t see why not. It doesn’t really matter which place you choose. You need to make a move. You’re stuck.’
‘I am aware of that.’ Mimi squinted in the bright light of the ladies ‘toilets as she reapplied her perfect pinky-brown lipstick. She was sure Sinead had followed her in on purpose, determined to have this conversation. She was standing right beside Mimi now, talking at her reflection in the mirror.
‘Un-stick yourself,’ she counselled, ‘and do it sooner rather later. You’ve never been this indecisive before, have you?’
‘No, but I always had a vision of what I wanted in life.’ Mimi slipped the lipstick back in her bag and gave her short, fair hair a quick fluff with her fingers. ‘I saw myself being married, having a family, working as an illustrator. I saw Glenn and me going on long walks and eating Sunday lunch in country pubs. All of a sudden the vision has disappeared completely, it’s like the screen’s gone blank. I can’t see a way forward any more.’
Sinead stared at her, bereft of advice, temporarily at least.
‘Another glass of wine and some food, that’s as far ahead as I want to look right now,’ said Mimi, quickly. ‘Come on, or the others will think we’ve abandoned them.’
They were at an Italian restaurant favoured by the Silver Divorcees mainly for its bring-your-own-booze Tuesdays. Mimi enjoyed the food, always ordering the pizza with burrata because she loved to slice into the soft cheese and watch its creamy centre oozing over the crisp, charred dough. She was the only one among the Silver Divorcees still eating carbs and saturated fat, but then all the others were dating; they were on Tinder or signed up with elite matchmaking agencies.
That was what they were discussing when Mimi and Sinead made it back to the table, shrieking with laughter at stories of Tinder encounters gone wrong.
‘So when I woke in the night, I thought he was stroking my shoulder,’ Jayne was saying now. ‘Then I turned over and it was actually this huge, hairy dog which had wriggled into bed between us and was drooling on my pillow. I could not make the thing move. In the end I got up, left a note to say I was a cat person, and went home.’
Sinead jumped into the conversation. ‘The dog wasn’t actually in the room when you were…’
‘Yes! It was lying on the rug, staring at us and panting. I kept catching its eye. It was really off-putting.’
‘Oh my God, that reminds me of the time I was dating the guy who had these Burmese cats…’
Mimi listened to their voices growing louder. She never had similar stories to share. She had been with Glenn for thirty years. It was impossible to imagine herself with anyone else.
‘Men…I really don’t know why we bother.’ Someone trotted out that line almost every time the Silver Divorcees met up; tonight it was Jayne, shaking her head in dismay. ‘All of us should buy a big house, move in together, and give up on them altogether.’
‘You’re right, we probably should,’ agreed Sinead.
‘Count me in,’ said Mimi. ‘It sounds like a great idea.’
‘Me too,’ added Dottie.
‘Why don’t we stop talking about this and actually do it?’ said Sinead, leaning forward, arms crossed. The Silver Divorcees had been her idea in the first place and she thought of herself as the group’s leader. ‘Let’s pitch in and buy a holiday villa, the four of us. Seriously, I mean it.’
‘Nice idea but I can’t afford it,’ said Jayne.
‘What if it hardly costs us anything? Hang on a minute, I saw this ad on Facebook.’ Sinead rummaged for her phone and started jabbing at the screen. ‘Here we go, this is it: Live Your Dream of Italy.’
She read the advertisement aloud with extra emphasis on the words, ‘just one
‘Sounds too good to be true; there must be a catch,’ said Jayne.
‘Not necessarily,’ Dottie countered. ‘I’m pretty sure I read an article about that in the Telegraph. The ad’s gone viral and they interviewed the mayor of the town..’
‘Salvio Valentini,’ said Sinead, reading from the screen again.
‘Could have been.’
‘If it’s gone viral then we’ve no chance of getting a house.’ Jayne sounded almost regretful.
‘Why don’t we try, though?’ Sinead urged. ‘It’s worth putting in an application. Imagine the Silver Divorcees with their own place in southern Italy.’
‘Do you really mean it?’ asked Mimi.
‘Yes, of course I do. We can all afford one euro. Tell you what, it’s on me.’
‘We’d have to spend some money on renovations,’ pointed out Dottie.
‘Not that much, surely, at least to begin with, so long as it’s structurally sound and has a serviceable kitchen and bathroom,’ said Sinead. ‘Imagine the sunshine and the fabulous food, just lazing round with books and opening the first bottle of wine at lunchtime.’
‘Living the dream,’ agreed Jayne, wistful.
‘Why not do it then?’ suggested Mimi, who suddenly had this new feeling, a kind of happy excitement that filled her with the sense anything was possible. She pulled her phone out of her bag. ‘Let’s send an email now.’
Extract from A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino (out in paperback on 8th August).
About the Author
Nicky Pellegrino was born in Liverpool but spent childhood summers staying with her family in southern Italy. A shy, tall, gingery child she never really fitted in with her exuberant Italian cousins and had a tendency to stay quiet and observe things. When Nicky started writing fiction it was her memories of those summers in Italy that came flooding back and flavoured her stories: the passions, the feuds but most of all the food.
Nicky now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband Carne plus a menagerie of dogs and horses. She works as a freelance journalist and her novels are distributed in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and have been translated into numerous languages.
She loves cooking for friends, drinking red wine, walking on New Zealand’s amazing beaches, riding her horse through the forest and lying in bed reading other people’s novels.