Date of publication: July 2nd 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Full of mouth-watering flavours, sunshine and escapist adventure, The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop will delight readers who enjoy Carole Matthews and Jenny Colgan.
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.
After I finished reading Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop (read my review here), I knew I had to read the sequel straight away and now I have a hard time justifying which one is the best of the two because both are such a delight to read.
After almost two years together, Anna and Matteo seems to settle well to life in Brighton but suddenly Matteo gets homesick and wanted to go back to Italy. Anna agrees to move to Sorrento and they open up a new ice cream shop, one that is all theirs. Along the way, they did not just have to deal with managing the new ice cream shop but they have to deal with Matteo’s mother who can be overbearing and constantly criticizing Anna’s way of making ice cream, since she has 30 years experience in the ice cream business. I love Anna and Matteo as a couple and I thought their daughter Bella added a little something to the mix. I felt that a lot of people can relate to their issue and I just admire the way the author tackled it to make it relatable.
While Anna goes off to live in Sorrento, Imogen, the sister with itchy feet is stuck in Brighton. Having lost a photography job that would have taken her to Amazon, and also subsequently doing mundane jobs that did not give her satisfaction, Imogen was restless. She wanted to get away and when Finn was showing signs of wanting to propose, to move on to the next phase of their lives, she freaked out. She escaped to Italy to visit her sister and met with Santiago, her ex. I can totally relate to Imogen freaking out over commitments because it is scary and even though sometimes I just can’t deal with the way she chose to run away from it because Finn has been nothing but a great boyfriend, I do understand why she acted that way.
What I love most about this book is the family relationship, especially the one that is depicted between the two sisters. They are both very different individuals with different interests, but in the face of life’s challenges, they come together and bonded stronger than ever. Having two sisters of my own makes their relationship very relatable. Other than that, once again family is the main focus in this book, with Matteo’s family added into the mix and also we got to know more about Vivien, the girls’ grandmother, through Clarissa, one of the guesthouse’s visitor.
When Anna and Matteo moved to Sorrento to be closer to Matteo’s family, the story takes on the more exotic flavour as they live their day to day life there and I love it because Abby Clements managed to make me feel as if I am in Sorrento myself. It would have been nicer if there are description of the places they are in but I am definitely happy enough with the ones that are in the book. And the descriptions of ice-creams are to die for, I found myself salivating quite a lot while reading this.
Overall, this is a very delightful book to read for a summery day, imagining that you are in Italy having gelato or granita, with plenty of likable characters with relatable issues that by the end you just get attached to no matter what. Highly recommended for those who would like to escape for a little bit.
My rating: 1/2