Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pizza and Promises by Sophia Bar-Lev

Pizza and Promises is the sequel to Pasta, Poppy Fields & Pearls (reviewed on this site), in a series the author calls The Tuscany Quartette Series.  The life drama picks up right where the first book lets off.  There will be a third book, and perhaps more, so this is really a series for lovers of sagas.  Some of the mysteries and traumas are resolved in each book.  Others continue on to the next book for resolution.

The main protagonists of this series are a group of diverse, mature women from around the world, who have retired to Tuscany, very near to Florence.  In the first book you learn their stories and how they got to Florence.  In this second book, the author tells us much about the women's children and other relatives.

Life is tumultuous.  That is reflected in the book, as is the need for good friends and faith to help us survive the travails of life.  Faith plays a stronger role in Pizza and Promises than in the first book.  It provides comfort and hope when things seem overwhelming for our characters.  Some of the women have difficulty dealing with their problems:
We're a lively, healthy and active group.  This doesn't happen to the likes of us.
I suspect mature women will most enjoy reading about these women dealing with grandchildren, grown children, health problems, loneliness, and late love.  The pace is stately, the details many.  There is no rush to come to an ending, instead, the joy should be taken in the journey.  One character has this insight about their group:
I don't think it's actual death itself that we fear.  It's the process of dying that we dread.

This group of friends may make some readers envious.  The women are close-knit and supportive, and they provide a laugh when needed, and a hug when wanted.
Loyalty was their way of life.
Be prepared for some pretty horrible things happening about halfway and at the end; this book is not all Tuscan sunshine, pizzas and promises!  More and more family come to join the women in their Tuscan idyll, some for a visit, others more permanently.  

The women may have been there for many years, but the beauty of the countryside has not lost its appeal:
They drove through the beautiful Tuscan countryside, feasting their eyes on landscapes they dearly loved and never tired of seeing.
But no matter how lovely the setting, they are not protected from world events.  That thought closes the novel, setting the stage for the next in the series.  Pizza and Promises delivers quality writing, editing and presentation, as with the first book, as well as the lesson that one can gain strength seeing how others overcome life's upsetting events.

Here is the book trailer for the first book in the series:

From the book's description:
The friends you loved in Pasta, Poppy Fields & Pearls continue their engaging and intriguing adventures in this sequel, Pizza & Promises.  New characters add to their uniqueness to the frequently humorous, sometimes deeply moving and at other times, heart-wrenching events.
You will be charmed and challenged by these women who defy stereotypes, ignore supposed age limitations and leave you wishing they lived next door!  PIZZA & PROMISES is the second of Sophia Bar-Lev's series of novels set in Tuscany.

Here are direct links to the paperback and e-book editions of Pizza and Promises:

Please visit the author's website.

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

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