1 November 2015

Book Review: The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

"Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it's easy to settle on a new business idea - they'll open a shop in Sorrento's cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo's overbearing family get involved …

Anna's younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together - she's living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri - and a man from her past - prove difficult to resist."

Rating: 4.5/5

Available to buy now.

Abby Clements' books are always a joy to read, so when I was sent a review of her beautiful new novel The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by her publishers, I was over the moon. The cover is just stunning, so evocative of an Italian summer that I was excited to dive in and catch up with these characters once more. They had all first featured in one of Abby's older books Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop making this technically a sequelbut this is just an enjoyable as a stand alone book too, with enough information being given to us about the past story to understand this one.

Anna and Matteo are making a real success of Vivien's ice cream shop, with a steady flow of customers coming all year long. Now they're parents, running the ice cream shop means juggling their business with their parental duties to daughter Isabella, and to make matters worse, Matteo is starting to miss his native Italy. The pair decide to give living in Sorrento a try, and move out there with their daughter to start their own ice cream shop. But as Matteo's Italian family keep getting involved, Anna struggles to cope with living abroad away from her parents and sister Imogen, and wonders if their Italian dream is going to work after all...

As I mentioned, this is a sequel but it doesn't matter if you haven't read the other book. I soon fell back into step with Anna, Matteo and Imogen, remembering what had happened before but Clements gives us enough information to refresh our minds for those who haven't read or may have forgotten the last book! It was lovely to see the shop was still a success, and that Vivien's memory was being upheld with the shop too. Anna and Matteo make great business partners as well as a couple, and reading their realistic relationship was great, it seemed believable and had its up and downs.

The whole move to Sorrento was a bit of a surprise - I didn't expect that Anna would want to go all the way to Italy, away from her family, especially her sister Imogen who she is close to. Clements writes these guilty feelings so well, I understood exactly what Anna was feeling, as well as her family who was being left behind so I found these parts of the book quite emotional. Matteo's joy at being home, though, was plain to see and it was nice that she was willing to make that sacrifice to help her husband find happiness. They had a genuine relationship, and I really enjoyed reading it all.

I wasn't so thrilled about the story involving Imogen, Anna's sister. I felt some of her actions were quite selfish, and she was quite unfair to the man she supposedly loves. As the story went on, you understand why she behaves as she does, but even so I struggled to feel sorry for her as she goes on with what she wants. That said, it certainly added a bit of drama into the book, and showed what a calm relationship Anna and Matteo had in contrast!

Clements' writing is brilliant throughout the book, and vividly brings to life Sorrento in my mind. It isn't somewhere that I have visited in Italy, so her descriptions really allowed me to imagine their ice cream shop, the little square where it is situated and everything else about Sorrento. She also puts across emotions so well, everything from happiness to guilt and apprehensiveness is written perfectly, and I was very much consumed by the story. She's definitely one of my favourite authors, and Clements new book A Winter Wedding is out soon - I can't wait to read that, knowing it's going to be such a treat, especially being a festive book! This, though, is a beautiful book and definitely one to curl up with on these chilly autumn nights to fill you with sunshine and warmth.

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