DOLCI DI LOVE by Sarah-Kate Lynch is the story of love, loss and hearts that are mended. Italian and American hearts are broken so the title which seems like someone forgot to translate it fully is a good fit.
The first few chapters were a bit confusing for me, they flip back and forth between characters and places. A woman, Lily, in NY finds startling evidence of her husband’s infidelity. Not only has Daniel, Lily’s husband for over a decade, cheated but it seems he has a second family.
Then, in a separate chapter, we are introduced to two elderly sisters Violetta and Luciana. They reside in a small village in Italy, they own a bakeshop and seem to have some eccentric behaviors. A couple of more chapters in, one does not need to take a leap of faith to see how the separate stories are going to merge.
During a bender that Lily does not remember, she scours Daniel’s computer and finds details of his travels for his wine business and correspondence with the other woman. Once lucid, she finds she has booked non-refundable travel to Italy that very day. When Lily settles into her destination, the fictional town of Montevedova, I enjoyed the light read going forward. Each chapter brought new scenery, sites, characters, charm and smells.
There are some cute aspects of the story that are endearing. The two elderly ladies are members and in charge of the Secret League of Widowed Darners. While they came together years ago to darn socks, their mission shifted to mending different holes, those found in hearts. The eccentric behaviors I alluded to above are part of the guiding force behind their decisions in matters of the heart.
Lily rents a room from Violetta and Luciana in the bake shop. It turns out due to their old age, competition and the fact they don’t actually sell their formerly famous cookies (cantucci) any longer in the bake shop things are in a state of disrepair. The ladies believe Lily is their next subject for the widowers society. But their senses while right about her broken heart, were off track on the mend. The ladies see the errors of their ways and join forces to fix things.
The town, its residents, vendors, the shops, streets and the narrative are delightful. When I was away from Montevedova I was anxious to return. The Widower’s League schemes to bring Lily together with the handsome Alessandro. Unbenowst to the widowers fate had thrown them together several times and the widowers try their hands a few more times.
Lily accidentally comes upon her husband’s second family. She meets the “other woman” and his daughter Francesca. As children were painfully missing from Lily and Daniel’s life, the connection to Francesca is both painful and yet enchanting. So do be careful where you read as you will undoubtedly wear a smile and then next moment be reaching for the tissue.
During this time of discovery as Lily is further breaking in two, she turns to the man who the widowers believed would mend her heart. But at the same time Violetta and Luciana realize their mistake and strike out to make things right with their widower network.
Lily and Francesca breath new life into the bakery and in turn into Lily and Daniel’s life. For me the end was so unsatisfying, it felt too contrived. But I was glad I visited Montevedova and miss my daily visits.
Sarah-Kate, where can I get a hold of those heart-shaped cantucci? It seems to me if you are going to go through sharing the history, preparation, tastes and healing powers your readers should be able to buy them or at least have the recipe.