Invitation to Italy by Victoria Springfield


 Invitation to Italy

By Victoria Springfield

One-time teenage swimming sensation, Loretta, has run the Hotel Paradiso since leaving Capri broken-hearted. When childhood friend Salvo comes to stay, Loretta is forced to confront her past and the fears that have kept her away from the water for forty years. But just as she finds the courage to open her heart, she discovers all is not as it seems with Salvo...
It's a summer of new beginnings for Abi and Loretta - and one they will never forget. 


Abi is distraught when her ex-husband Alex takes their twelve-year-old daughter, Chloe to spend the summer with his glamorous fiancée Marisa and her parents at their home on the beautiful Italian island of Procida. Persuaded by her best friend to book a holiday at the island's Hotel Paradiso, Abi finally meets the woman she's been avoiding for so long. Will the two women's strained relationship survive the summer?



An invitation to Italy? Yes, please! Where exactly?  Procida, off the Amalfi coast! Booking a flight now!

The story starts with a teenage daughter showing independent thinking and not too keen on wanting to fit in with Mum’s plans for the summer holiday. Yes, I can identify with that one! And there is a holiday in Italy on offer with Dad and his gorgeous fiance Marisa. Of course, this is the moment that mums ought to loosen the grip so that children can take to the skies like a kite without holding them back but Abi finds this difficult.

‘A week in Dorset with boring spoilsport Mum or a summer of Italian sunshine and fun – it was a contest that Abi couldn’t win.’

Abi, like most of us, has a well-meaning friend who convinces her to book a flight to Italy so that she can keep a watchful eye on her daughter, from a distance.

The adventure begins and the author introduces a bunch of people like a lineup of characters from an Agatha Christie mystery. Loretta is the immaculate, stylish, and elegant owner of the Hotel Paradiso.  A lady with a past, perhaps, she would wish to forget?

‘Life on Procida wasn’t always easy, sometimes it was tragic, sometimes exhilarating but it was raw and real. How had Loretta once thought she could thrive in a slick city like Milan with its traffic fumes, flashy boutiques, and smell of a million people She needed to live on this rugged volcanic island she now called home.’

 Bill, the workaholic businessman always sitting by the pool, even if he did ‘have a nice smile and sky-blue eyes.’  Salvo, a man whom Loretta knew more than a lifetime ago, mysteriously checks into the hotel. Then we have the pretty, perfect and successful Marisa, now the partner of Abi's ex-husband Alex and whose parents, Flavia and Enzo live on the island.

This eclectic cast of characters are credible people whom we might know. They have flaws and failings but they are individual and seek to relate to others. The author adds a sense of reality without going too quickly and deeply into character development. There are secrets, there is guilt and there is loneliness which come with their own emotional burdens that some of the characters are battling with. There is also an inherent need for self-protection and self-preservation.

This is a wonderfully evocative piece of writing! The vivid descriptions of Procida and its surroundings, with pastel-coloured buildings and dark volcanic sand, create rich imagery that transports you right into the scene. The subtle romances and the development of relationships between mothers and children, ex-wives, new girlfriends, and estranged friends add layers of depth to the narrative, making it both captivating and emotionally resonant. It's no wonder that reading such a story would spark a desire to visit Italy and explore its hidden treasures firsthand. The author’s power of storytelling ignites our imagination and wanderlust!

As a person living in Italy, I really appreciate the authenticity of the storytelling and accurate description of Italian food, customs, and places. Effective research is essential to make the characters in that world come alive and none more so than in Italy. Passion is the essence of Italian identity, from its ancient buildings to the musicality of its language and trademark lifestyle, all of which are found in the book.

‘The sky was a cloudless blue and the island stretched away from Abi in a gentle curve. Below her were the colourful buildings cascading down to the Marina Corricella and two rows of boats lined up along its edge. A small yacht was sailing in, a streak of white marking the water behind it. Above the stacks of ice-cream-coloured houses rose the dome above the church, and she could just see the edge of the breakwater stretching into the rich blue of the sea.’

I could vividly imagine the scenery, food, and people described in the story, which creates a deeply immersive reading experience. I felt that I was right there alongside the characters, experiencing everything as if they were part of the narrative themselves.

This is a book that leaves you with a feel-good, happy sensation which is special. It's like discovering a literary oasis where you can escape to whenever you need a boost of positivity and warmth. It's amazing how the right story can uplift your spirits and leave a lasting imprint of joy.

Why I recommend this book

Loved this! There's something special about being transported to another place through a well-crafted story, isn't there?  Experts tell us that we can develop a deeper awareness of and empathy for other people and the environment around us by thoroughly engrossing ourselves in a story. The power of reading immersion is a genuinely unique experience that can boost cognitive and emotional abilities while also offering a sense of escape and relaxation.

The phrase "a summer of new beginnings," in the blurb, suggests a period of transformation and change for the characters Abi and Loretta. It hints at the possibility of fresh starts, new opportunities, and perhaps even unexpected adventures or challenges that lie ahead. It could also be a time of forging new connections, strengthening existing relationships, and exploring new horizons. I will not reveal any spoilers except to say that this gem of a novel ‘does what it says on the tin.’ We are all invited to Italy to embark on a journey of self-discovery, pursue dreams or confront issues from the past. 

It is a well-written story that not only entertains but also warms the heart and certainly the readers will find enjoyment in both the setting and the characters.  The author demonstrates an ability to absorb her readers in a range of emotions, from sorrow to joy, to experience the slow pace of life on an Italian island, the wonderful weather and enjoy ‘la dolce vita,’ all of which are the mark of an impactful narrative.



Victoria Springfield writes contemporary women's fiction immersed in the sights, sounds and flavours of Italy. Victoria grew up in Upminster, Essex. After many years in London, she now lives in Kent with her husband in a house by the river. She likes to write in the garden with a neighbour's cat by her feet or whilst drinking cappuccino in her favourite café. Then she types up her scribblings in silence whilst her mind drifts away to Italy.



Published by Orion March 2024

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