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Can the past show you the way home? Charming and memorable, The Right Place is an Australian novel, combining warm romance with family drama and the longing to fit in. Perfect for readers who love The Missing Pieces of Us by Fleur McDonald and Josephine Moon.
With her dreams of dominating Melbourne’s fashion scene in tatters, Nella Martini has returned to the last place she wants to be – Torrente Blu, the market garden inherited from her late nonna. She just needs to clean up the property, sell it quickly, and avoid run-ins with her neighbour: surly Adrian Tomaso. But when Nella comes across her nonna’s cookbook things start to change. The place, with its endless tomato plants and gallons of olive oil in storage, gets under her skin, as does Adrian with his passion for this life. But her dreams have always meant being anywhere but here – haven’t they? Or has the right place been here all this time? For Esta Feliciano in the 1950s, the right place was her Italian village. But in search of a better life than war-torn Italy has to offer, her husband has moved Esta and their daughter to this alien country, settling on a small, flat piece of land that he calls Torrente Blu. Can Esta come to grips with the harsh Australian sun and strange culture?
Woven with traditional Italian recipes, The Right Place is the heartfelt story of two women’s journeys, as they discover how the right place to call home can be where you make it…
What a sweet romance and a lovely holiday read.
The novel begins with Nella leaving Melbourne, her ex and a failed business venture. She journeys to Adelaide to help clean up her Nonna’s estate and come to terms with her loss. The novel also follows parts of her Nonna’s life as she moved from Italy and settled into life in Australia. The dual timeline is well written and the insights into Nonna’s friendships and family life were very moving.
I did however, become impatient with Nella in sections of the novel, as she seemed to take her time to realise what she truly wanted and I was frustrated by her inconsiderate nature at times. As she spends time with next door neighbour and childhood friend, Adrian, she begins to mature and I loved how her character grew as the novel progressed. From fashionista to farmhand, she is faced with many challenges and learns more about herself in the process. I enjoyed reading her newfound connections with her heritage.
The setting of the market garden and Nonna’s home made me feel like I wanted to be there, leading a life with such appreciation and connection to the land. I imagined those big red tomatoes and Italian food so much so that it made me hungry.
The book is beautifully presented, including the cover that I was drawn to straight away and the simple Italian recipes within the pages of the story. I am hoping to make some of them soon.
I would recommend this novel for anyone looking to read a nice romance. It was a charming story of love, loss, strong Australian community, migration and Italian food.