Fiction set in USA and EUROPE: the life of Maria Callas
Novel set on Titan, a fictional Italian island in the Mediterranean
12th May 2018
The Little Italian Bakery by Valentina Cebeni, novel set on Titan, a fictional Italian island in the Mediterranean. It is situated between Corsica and Sardinia. Translated by Isabelle Kaufeler.
Food and Italy, a bit of sunshine and romance, and a whiff of ethereal mystery. What’s not to like?
Elettra’s bakery has failed, her heart just wasn’t in it. Her Mother, who taught her the fundamental and creative baking skills, lies in a coma nearing death. Life feels just so two dimensional until Elettra is prompted to go to the island of Titan, which has a strong – if unexplained – connection with her Mother. Her mother has worn a necklace with Titan engraved on it, dedicated to St Elizabeth, the patron saint of bakers (and, as it happens, of countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides!).Too many secrets have left Elettra battling her way through a lacklustre life. She needs answers.
She thus arrives on Titan and ends up lodging at the crumbling ruin of the convent, run by Lea. Other women reside there, making it almost a co-operative concern. As the story progresses, tensions have to be handled and difficulties circumnavigated. Gradually an unfolding history helps her to piece together much of her mother’s life, amidst the walls of the covent, echoing with religion and history. The Mistral winds blow over the island heralding change and redemption, no doubt a fleeting nod to Joanne Harris’s novel Chocolat.
Secrets are uncovered and remarkable parallels between lives become clear, as friendships grow and change. The story is crowned by a love interest, and love itself in its various forms, together with wonderfully evocative food descriptions, meld together as the overarching themes. Recipes are included for some of the baking delicacies featured.
It is at heart a novel with a melancholic feel, tempered by full-on life that can only mean Italy. Sometimes the story verges on being a little lugubrious and that can make it a little heavy-going at times. It is not to my mind a “feel good holiday romance” as advertised on Amazon, a description that makes light of the deep relationships and life issues that the novel addresses.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Do come and join team TripFiction on Social Media:
Why not try reading Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day, set on another island in the Mediterranean and included in the Reith Lectures “Are these the greatest historical novels ever written?”