Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Italian Party: No One is What They Appear To Be

The Italian Party is a smart, sharp, and satiric take on 1950s American culture and politics.

The newlyweds were picture perfect American ideals in the flesh: Michael, twenty-four, a handsome, well-dressed man who shaved four times a day, and twenty-year-old Scottie, Vassar educated, beautiful, blond haired, and dressed in pearls, heels, gloves, hat-- and girdle and underarm perspiration guards.

Their whirlwind courtship and quick marriage was secretly a marriage of convenience for them both. The bride was pregnant and the husband was told a wife was good for his new job. Neither knew much about the other, and they liked it that way.

They are beginning their lives together in Siena, Italy.

"They seemed to have stepped right out of an advertisement for Betty Crocker, Wonder Bread or capitalism itself."
Post-war Italy was still rebuilding after WWII--both its infrastructure and its political structure. American cultural imperialism was in full swing, hoping to lure Italy away from the Communist Party and Soviet influence. The CIA and the Communists covert operations have converged on Siena's mayoral election.

Michael works for Ford and has been sent to Siena to sell tractors, hoping to lure farmers into modernization, but the locals are not very receptive.

The newlyweds try to live up to the glossy ideals of advertising, being the kind of husband and wife seen in on a magazine cover. But each is living a lie.
Glamor in 1958
Meanwhile, they are surrounded and befriended by people with hidden agendas, secret liaisons, and complicated backgrounds.

All that is hidden eventually is outed, taking the newlyweds into surprising and very non-Norman Rockwell territory.

I enjoyed the satire and the historical background. The story had lots of twists and complications. The ending felt far-fetched to me in terms of how Michael and Scottie resolve their marital challenges. But the characters are quite happy and eager for new adventures.

I received a free e-book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Italian Party
by Christina Lynch
St. Martin's Press
Pub Date 20 Mar 2018
ISBN: 9781250147837
PRICE: $25.99

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