Book Review – The Little Italian Bakery

The Little Italian Bakery by Valentina Cebeni (Little, Brown) ISBN: 9781408707951

The Little Italian Bakery isn’t about a little Italian bakery at all. The book is filled with flavoursome Italian recipes I intend to try out, but a physical bakery doesn’t form part of the story in any title-based way. That annoyed me.

With her mother in a coma, Elettra Cavani sets off to discover her hidden past on Titan Island. There she meets a group of mysterious widows living in a crumbling convent that they are struggling to keep afloat. Elettra finds herself welcomed as long as she doesn’t ask too many questions about her mother’s past. This leads her to dig even deeper where she finds a lot more than she expected.

The plot could have worked beautifully if the characters themselves were not so shallow and mercurial. There wasn’t sufficient dialogue to bring me close enough to empathise with Elettra. I felt I was being told what she was like rather than observing it for myself in the writing of her character.

This novel didn’t live up to its beautiful artwork and enticing title.

Justine Cullinan