Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Dinner in Bellagio by Carlotta Melzi d'Este

Synopsis: A forty-something widow spends the summer on Lake Como in Italy to finish the cookbook she is writing but finds herself distracted by a 20 year old man-child. A lot of cooking happens and a lot of sex occurs and somewhere along the way they fall in love.
My Thoughts: This book is pretty much a mess. From the beginning to the end I was constantly wondering if this book was poorly translated from Italian to English or if the author purposely wrote it in English thinking she had a superior grasp of the language. Many of the sentences are awkward and clunky and often the dialogue had a randomness about it where multiple thoughts were blended all together within the same paragraph.

"I can use my mother's recipe or my grandmother's recipe. Both of my grandmothers had a different one. There are heavy recipes or heavier recipes. Tonight we will use my aunt Palmira's one. It's so rich that I suspect she had learnt it from a priest."

Another issue I had was that the author spent a lot of time telling us what she wanted us to know about the characters and the setting but never just showed us. There were many times where the story broke away from the 'action' to tell us background information. It would have read better if the information was discovered by the reader through Rose and Agostino's interactions or adventures. In addition much of that background information tended to read like it was part of a research paper. There were even footnotes peppered throughout the book.

The author had an interesting idea incorporating recipes of dishes that Rose and Agostino made but with one recipe following ever chapter it felt a bit much. After reading a few of them and realizing that there was no way I'd actually make any of them (mostly because some of them called for ingredients I had no idea where to find) I opted to skip them. This made the book go a lot faster for which I was very grateful.

The only thing that rivaled the number of recipes would be the amount of sex found in the book. Yes, this book has a warning "Warning: explicit sex and BDSM. 18+" but to tell the truth, it was not the amount of sex or the kind of sex that I found horrible. It was actually the rather uninspired phrasing used to describe the sex that I found offensive. None of their sexual encounters could be mistaken for romance. Here is an example of a weirdly worded and non-romantic sexual encounter....(I substituted a couple words that are more offensive but left those that can be found on a 'This is your body' poster at your doctor's office but I can assure you the rest is all the author's work.)

"I was lying on my back, and Agostino knelt among my legs putting my feet around his neck. He forced me to lift my [badonkadonk] from the bed and he penetrated me. He squatted and his [rooster] went back, he knelt and reached the deepest part of my vagina. He began to do the exercise faster, squat and knelt, back and forth, again, again...

"Agostino!" I yelled. I didn't want to end just at the beginning!

He slowed down panting and moaning. He was too concentrated to grin at me.

Slow. Fast. Slow. Fast. Slow......"

His [rooster] was rubbing my vagina upper wall. I'd never found such a perfect position. I was on the verge of an explosion. Abruptly Agostino stretched his legs under my lower back. I had to bend backwards and his [rooster] reached the cervix.

Fast. Fast. Hard. Fast. Boom!" 

The book is chock full of these encounters.

In addition the author had a habit of being quite repetitive. Repetitive in her description of Agostino (he had a brat face, a brat smile and a brat grin which we read about in every chapter) and extremely repetitive in the fact that the characters were always laughing or giggling yet nothing ever seemed funny.

"Rose, sei cosi bella sotto la luna! You are so beautiful under the moon!" He yelled at me in Italian......

......"Buona notte, Agostino. Hai passato una bella serata? Good night Agostino. Did you have a nice evening?" I answered him, me too in Italian.

He stared at me for a full minute then he burst out laughing. He couldn't stop.

"I'm sorry, Signora. I'm a werewolf tonight."

I laughed back at him and wished him goodnight before that crazy dialogue became dangerous."

I normally would try to balance my review with some positives about the book but after more than a week of trying to come up with some I'm still drawing a blank other than I was able to read this utilizing my Amazon Prime benefit for free. Because I finished this book I feel obligated to give it a rating more than 0 cups of coffee but it truly was not enjoyable for me so I give it 1/2 a cup of coffee. Carlotta's efforts deserve that much recognition even if I didn't like them.

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