"La vita allegra. Joyful living. His eyes danced with excitement and awe and insatiable curiosity. Not just for America. For life. I ached to feel that again."
Lott's depiction and characterization of a grief stricken family still coming to terms with the loss of their husband/father is realistically written and sensitively portrayed.
Da Vinci becomes more than just a tenant. He becomes friends with the boys and closer and closer to Ramona. Is she ready to act on the attraction she feels towards this younger man? Or would it be a betrayal of her love for her husband Joel? She has unanwered questions about Joel's relationship with an old flame that still haunt her as well.
"I wished I could wear red lipstick, but much like the red suit, you have to have the red inside of you to wear it on the outside."
I had the idea that this would be a 'chick lit' book when I first picked it up. I found it to have more depth than just a beach read. Lott has also done her research - I found the origins of words and love fascinating as well as the details of an Indian wedding ceremony. As I interact with immigrants on a daily basis, I appreciated her positive outlook towards new citizens.
The book is populated with some fun supporting characters. I found the best friend Anh particularly appealing. The sister and mothers are a bit stereotypical and overdone, but fulfill their role in the book quite well. I did find that taking da Vinci into her bed when her boys home a bit rash. Quite honestly she put up with a bit more than I would have. (the new mattress story springs to mind)
Although the ending of the book is predictable and neatly wrapped up, it was an enjoyable journey to get there. I was happy to discover this new (for me) author. Check out Malena's website for contests, recipes and reading group guides. One of my favourite new authors, Jess Riley, just posted a great interview with Malena here.