Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely of hands, and sometimes getting lost is the surest way to be found.
Anica Tomlin, business major, has just learned that the man she’s been planning her future around, her Global Finance professor, already has a beautiful wife and family. Ani cashes in her graduation gift to herself a little early–a trip to Tuscany–but from the moment she boards the wrong train in Pisa, her plans for solitude and self-indulgence begin to unravel around her.
When a bicycle accident thrusts Ani into the skilled hands of the dashing Dr. Cosimo Lazzaro, she reluctantly accepts his invitation to recover in his family’s country villa, perched on a hilltop surrounded by the Lazzaro olive groves. But it’s been a black year for olive growers all over Italy, and generations of tradition are being put to the test like never before.
Ani is swept up in the drama of life in Tuscany, the convergence of old and new, and the passions that drive people to pursue the desires of their hearts. Just as Ani begins to get her feet under her again, an unexpected turn of events leaves her doubting the very existence of happily-ever-after, unless she can learn to trust the desires of her own heart.
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this sensitively written novel.
I chose All the Way to Heaven to read based on its setting. Tuscany is one of my favourite places (hence I set part of my own novel The Echoes of Love there); asAmerican poet Oscar Fay Adams put it: ‘Tuscany, land of fierce hates and wild loves and of limitless passions.’ I eagerly pick up books that will transport me to the inspiring landscapes and culture of the area, and this book did not disappoint at all. The setting is painted in rich, luxuriant colours, as seen through the eyes of young Anica, and is the perfect backdrop for her personal journey. In fact, I defy anyone to read this novel and not long to book a trip to Tuscany!
I very much enjoyed the depiction of local people in the book, and how Anica integrates with them rather than standing apart as a tourist. There is such warmth to the Italian characters in the book, which feels authentic and delightfully homely.
I also loved the references to Giacomo Puccini operas; I could almost hear the music running as a ‘booktrack’ as I read. Indeed, I soon became distracted and had to put down the book and put on a Puccini CD for background music before getting lost in the story once more.
I was initially a little sceptical about the affair from which Anica was running, but I soon settled into her story and felt affinity with her, and sympathy for her romantic past. I loved how the author introduced two potential romantic interests for Ani in Tuscany. It certainly kept me on my toes as I read, trying to decide for myself which of the two she should be with and why each man acted as he did. The mystery was compelling!
But how can Anica be with either of these man when she is merely on holiday in Italy and her life awaits her back in the United States? This question plagued me the further I read, but the author handles its answer beautifully, in a way that simultaneously surprised and thrilled me.
Ultimately, the love story in this book is one you’ll remember, and I think it stands out in the ‘clean romance’ category. But for me, the standout aspect of this book is Anica’s journey, her coming-of-age transformation from girl to woman. The author writes, ‘sometimes getting lost is the surest way to be found.’ Ultimately, however, Anica is not found, but finds herself, because the true power in this book lies within the heroine.
All the Way to Heaven is available to order from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.