This is a two-part novel, encompassing the parallel love stories of a grandmother and her granddaughter. The first part is the better section of the story, with good character development and entertaining setting descriptions.
Part 2, in which the scene jumps two generations, seems a bit rushed. Instead of the slow, enjoyable filling in of details of the first part, the intervening years are all jammed in with a rush of backstory, and the love interest seems more manipulated. The character development is rushed through, because we’ve already had enough of that in the first half of the book, but then we feel we are missing something. The plot is also weakened by a deus ex machina solution to the conflict.
The most important love affair, though is the author’s romance with Sardinia. Her love for the countryside and the people gushes from the description of every meal and every vista. It is a place I would have never considered visiting, but I’m not so sure, now.
However, there is a back side to this. Enamoured as the writer is, she can allow no clouds to intrude on her panorama of this sunlit place, so there is little suspense. There are several good peaks of conflict, but on a day-to-day basis everything works out suspiciously well for the characters. For example, while there is much made about Ellie’s strict, controlling mother, in fact, the woman doesn’t care enough about her daughter to notice what she’s doing. While this may be true to character, it means there are no consequences to any of the girl’s actions, so we don’t really worry about her getting into trouble.
Our enjoyment of the story is also dimmed by patches of awkward writing. Passages roll along smoothly, then bring us up short with a sudden point-of-view switch or a sentence that contains two completely separate ideas.
The characterization is reasonable for this genre, with mild stereotyping but empathetic treatment of everyone but the villains (who are both ambitious mothers. Do we have a Freudian situation here, Ms. Dudley?)
To sum up, this is a sweet romance and passionate travelogue with lovable characters but very little edge. Recommended for romantic souls who will forgive the uneven quality of the writing.(4 / 5)