Lena and Alex are one of the most compatible couples in the world – at least in Lena’s mind. We follow their whirlwind courtship and marriage in a great two-chapter synopsis that sets the stage for the remainder of the book. After sixteen years of marriage, two children, and a missed honeymoon in Florence, Italy that Lena hopes will one day still happen our couple has settled into the routine of married life. Lena gave up her artistic career when she married Alex who is an art professor. Not too oddly they have grown apart over the years of their marriage. But when Alex comes home one day with news that he’s been asked to teach at an American university in Florence, Lena’s dreams of them having that missed honeymoon take center stage. When Alex tells his wife that the appointment is only for him, that he can’t take his family, Lena despairs of ever getting to Florence even though Alex assures her that after the semester (three months) he’ll be home once again. That one semester stretches to two and after six months of dealing solo with dance practice, soccer games, and a dog who pees in the house, Lena has had enough. She gives her husband an ultimatum – come home now! On the day that Alex is due to arrive home, Lena goes through quite a bit of trouble. She hangs a huge Welcome Home banner that she painted, she’s cleaned the house, and is preparing Spaghetti Bolognese for Alex. She is interrupted by a delivery of red roses with a note that says simply, “I’m sorry”. As the evening progresses and she doesn’t hear from Alex she makes excuses to herself – he can’t call from the plane, maybe the flight was delayed, etc. With a cold supper sitting on the stove, she checks her computer only to learn that Alex’s flight has safely landed hours earlier. She starts to panic since she hasn’t had a call or a text message from him. She calls his computer via Skype and it is answered not by Alex but by a stunning young Italian woman who tells Lena that she and Alex have been together for months, that she is his mistress. To prove her claim, she turns the computer towards the door where Alex is just entering and Lena watches while her husband kisses his mistress passionately. What happens next is the remainder of the story. We follow Lena who has arrived in Florence with her children and their dog. Lena is determined to fight for her husband and her marriage.
With Lena we see how external forces can rip apart a seemingly solid marriage. THREE MONTHS IN FLORENCE is a look at the decaying effect of those external forces and how this woman chooses to confront them. Should she confront the mistress? What does she do when face-to-face with her cheating husband? A series of events – sidewalk art, the vandalism of centuries-old art, and being hit upon by a lustful taxi driver are the first thing Lena must contend with within the first couple of hours of her arrival in Florence. And what is she to do with the threat of her husband’s mistress’s artist boyfriend? A bit of laughter, a lot of tears, much confusion, and compassion from the oddest sources (Nonna and Nonno, to Angelo and ultimately to Marco the Italian boyfriend) will keep the reader riveted to this book.
The author’s descriptions of Florence and the Italian people brought many memories to my mind, especially since I personally have friends who reside in Italy. I would love to see a sequel to this book to learn more of all the characters – especially the Italian ones.