With the TV full of the horrors going on in the world and gale force winds howling outside all weekend, it was the perfect time to snuggle up under the quilt with a slice of feel-good literary escapism. The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop ticked all the right boxes.
The story starts in Brighton, a seaside town that I know well (and my hometown of Hastings even got a cheeky mention !) and we discover Anna who, along with her Italian husband Matteo, runs a popular ice cream shop. The shop used to belong to their grandmother and featured in a previous novel, Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop. Despite being a sequel, this book can be read as a stand-alone novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite not having read the earlier novel.
Anna has a close bond with her family - her parents, who are renovating a guest house, and her globe-trotting little sister who lives with her surfer boyfriend Finn. Add in some close friends, a cute daughter and lashings of delicious ice cream and it all sounds like the recipe for blissful happiness, but there is a fly in the ointment - Matteo reveals that he sometimes feels homesick, leading Anna to suggest they move to the Amalfi Coast for the summer, taking over an ice cream shop in the quaint Italian town of Sorrento.
Things go swimmingly until Matteo's over-bearing mother shows up and Anna has to decide whether she would be prepared to give up her own family to live in Italy permanently. What really makes the novel is the supporting cast of complex and endearing characters, both in Italy and Brighton.
The uplifting story focuses on the quest for happiness and making relationships work, taking chances on the ones that are worth it and turning the pages on the ones that aren't. The happy endings, decadent desserts and evocative descriptions of Italy all put a smile on my face, making it the perfect read on a grey, autumnal day.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £7.99
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.