Lizzie & Dante
Lizzie & Dante has all the elements of a great romance – a woman on vacation in Italy, a hot Italian chef with great moves in and out of the kitchen, days on the beach, and nights under the stars. But it also has one element of a great tragedy – Lizzie is sick with cancer.
Lizzie Delford, a Shakespeare professor from NYC, is on vacation on the Italian island of Elba with her best friend, Grey, and his boyfriend Rohan. They are travelling in style – Grey is a popular horror novelist and Rohan is a famous actor. Lizzie would rather avoid the yacht crowd and spends her days sunning, reading, and napping on the public beach where one day she meets Dante. She has no interest in talking to anyone or making new friends; she is slowly saying good-bye to the ones she has and is busy giving her things away. But Dante is persistent and invites Lizzie and her friends to dine at his restaurant.
When they arrive at the restaurant, Rohan is thrilled. It turns out Dante is the famous chef Nicola Moretti – the one whose restaurant in NYC Rohan moved apartments to be closer to.
“Met a chef,” Rohan said. “You met the chef! Like if you had one of those half-assed conversations at a party where someone promises you a part, but later you found out you’d been talking to Martin Scorsese.”
Dante is smitten with Lizzie (as is his twelve-year-old daughter Etta). He spends his free time visiting with Lizzie and taking her around the island. Etta does the same, taking Lizzie on their own adventures when Dante is busy. She would love for Dante to find someone and she’s voting for Lizzie. Etta would also love to have a mother. As you can imagine, this leads to an enormous quandary for Lizzie. Is it okay to fall in love with Dante and Etta knowing that she may only have a few short years (or even months) left? And how does she even begin to tell them this?
The cast of Lizzie & Dante is delightful. I fell in love with Dante, who is kind, funny, supportive, and he can cook – if he does the dishes voluntarily he’d be my dream man! He’s scrumptious. Lizzie is very easy to like. She’s in a tough situation but manages to be an awesome friend and a great support to Etta. Grey and Rohan are also well-developed. Lizzie and Grey have an interesting history that adds another dramatic element to the story, and Rohan is desperately trying to rewrite Romeo and Juliet as a modern love story (with Lizzie’s help). It becomes apparent that Rohan is pretty clueless about the actual Romeo and Juliet love story – even though he’s convinced investors to back his idea. His attempts at framing the classic love story/tragedy into something new and fresh are entertaining.
Lizzie & Dante is written by Mary Bly, also known as Eloisa James to romance fans. But, although this story is very romantic, it is not strictly a romance novel. Readers know right from the beginning that a happy ever after is unlikely and it is definitely harder to lose yourself in a love story when you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Even with the question of Lizzie’s illness shadowing the story and the romance, Lizzie & Dante ends up being an uplifting novel, celebrating life in the moment and friendships that last a lifetime. There were a few minor hiccups in the story but on the whole, I enjoyed reading Lizzie and Dante’s story and enthusiastically recommend it.