Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Review: The Ice Cream Parlour

By Sara Steven

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren't as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an 'Eat Pray Love' style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn't expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can't shake.

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All's fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn't it?
(Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

In the beginning, it feels as though Giovanna is a modern day Cinderella, trying to make her way in spite of her family. The noted black sheep, there’s constant struggle within her to do her very best for her family, yet distant herself. Thrown into the scenario is her lothario boyfriend, a man she is madly in love with, but doesn’t give her the respect she deserves. With so much discord, it’s no wonder she chooses to leave behind the mess and chaos and embark on a soul-searching, taste testing journey in Italy, a place where she attempts to find herself.

I’m a self-professed lover of all things ice cream, but I was blown away by the wide range of flavors and creations that Giovanna indulges in. I’d never heard of so many of the flavors and textures and even the colors that are presented, an important vein that pumps life blood into The Ice Cream Parlour. With a background for delectables, there is obvious passion, and it shows in every bite that Giovanna takes. Her reputation and pride are on the line, in opening up her own parlour, but where the lines blur are in the motivations behind it. Are those motives pure, or is it a way to stick it to those who have hurt her?

There’s a large part of the novel that feels a little like the French movie He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not. Initially, the story is shown from only one perspective, like in the case of Giovanna. This enables us to side completely with her. Yet midway through, there’s a unique rewind into the past, now showcasing the perspective from a completely new vantage point, turning the reader’s ideas and opinions completely on its head. Who’s side are we on, now? It got me thinking on how past hurts, even when they’re from long ago and deep seeded, can often have a larger influence on the choices made today and how ultimately, there really isn’t a clear-cut wrong or right answer when family is involved.

The backdrop is steeped in Italian landscape, an almost cinematographic view through internal dialogue. While I’ve never been, I felt like I was right there with Giovanna while she traveled to Tuscany, Lake Como, Milan, and more. Even the experiences she has in Bath made me want to venture out to the UK. An undercurrent plot to all of this is an interesting twist to the story, the kind of dealings her family has been involved in since she was a child, always lurking in the dark, coming to fruition when she least expects it, but more than expects it. With so many distinctive events going on, The Ice Cream Parlour proved to be a delightful read!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase the novel here.

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury's ley lines however, she's unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life's 'rules'. The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

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