Book Review: Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Mysterious Deaths of Silvio Berlusconi by Julie Sarff

Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Mysterious Deaths of Silvio BerlusoniThe best time to start planning a holiday and dreaming of far-away places is always during the first few months of the year: Christmas is all but forgotten; the weather’s mostly miserable; and summer seems a distant dream.  So reading about a hot and sunny location like Italy seemed the perfect pick-me-up.  Although rain appears to be far more frequent in Italy than I had previously imagined, as this story approaches its conclusion and the summer heat descends I found myself basking in the imaginary sunlight streaming from my Kindle screen.  The more the characters gasped in the humidity, the better I felt.

The strong sense of place is the best thing about this intriguingly titled ebook.  The author, Julie Sarff, tells me that she once lived in Italy for a time, and it shows.  You get a really good feel for the country’s culture-clash of modern and traditional values, as well as discovering its colourful people.

Losing yourself in the Italy of the novel is also made easy by the characters’ occasional use of Italian speech, inserted strategically into the book to enhance a passionate rant or a descriptive colloquial gem, and (on the whole) unobtrusively translated by Lily, the narrator, when necessary.

Lily is an American living in Italy.  She is self-obsessed, a terrible blabbermouth (at her own expense) and as subtle as a sledgehammer.  But she does realise this and tries to hold herself back, usually without success.  She is more than a little obsessed with mega film star Brandon Logan, whose Italian villa she is employed to clean, and her encounters with him and his horrible girlfriend Amanda are disastrously comical.

Despite all her faults, her warmth, her childish curiosity and her knack for getting herself into all manner of embarrassing situations are quite endearing.  She loves her naughty children and berates herself for worrying about her own problems when they (or her eccentric friends) are in need.  She carries the novel well and provides more than a few genuinely funny moments.

This is typical chick-lit: a feel-good rom-com.  The name “chick-lit” often makes me uncomfortable, as the term is often used in a patronising way to sideline a lot of otherwise very good novels into the category of “fluffy books for women”.  In this case, however, it should actually give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.  It’s all sorts of clichés bundled together, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

It’s a lovely story of escapism, of Cinderella meeting her Prince Charming.  Will she get him in the end?  Well, being a romantic comedy, the ending is quite predictable, but it’s the journey getting there that counts.  There are a few loose ends which I would have liked to have seen tidied up, and the plot becomes ever more preposterous towards the end of the book, but a little bit of silliness doesn’t hurt sometimes.  This would be a good holiday read or, if you’re not going away this summer, would provide a sun-starved reader with a break from the norm.

You can buy Sweet Delicious Madness and the Many Mysterious Deaths of Silvio Berlusconi as an ebook from Amazon here.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

    Apr 09, 2012 @ 21:53:26

    Your blog looks fantastic, Angela. Thanks for the review.


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