An aspiring writer meets her dream man at a retreat in Italy…but when they’re back in London, real life gets in the way.
Ava is a copywriter for a pharmaceutical company in London, but she dreams of writing a book. So when she gets the chance to go to a writing retreat at a remote monastery in Italy, she jumps on it. At the retreat, real names and personal conversations aren’t allowed—instead, everyone wears linen kurta pajamas and goes by made-up names. Ava decides to go by Aria, and she quickly meets Dutch, who joins their group after his martial arts retreat is cancelled. Ava falls for him almost instantly, and the two spend their days cliff-jumping, eating ice cream, and writing thinly veiled sex scenes to share with the class. One thing they definitely don’t do? Talk about their real names, jobs, or living situations. Ava might not know Dutch’s name, but she knows they’ll stay together even when they head back to London. But it turns out that getting to know Dutch—or Matt—in real life is a bit trickier. Ava hates his industrial flat filled with creepy artwork, and Matt can’t stand her run-down place filled with “rescue books” and upcycled furniture that tends to break. Ava’s dog keeps destroying Matt’s shirts, and Matt isn’t a vegetarian. Perhaps most importantly, Matt is tied to a family job that makes him miserable, and his parents don’t care much for Ava. Can their relationship survive the real world, or are they doomed by their differences? Ava is a charming main character whose relentless positivity is often misplaced but usually quite funny. Her efforts to fit into Matt’s life, no matter where it leads her (sometimes into such awkward situations as a naked sauna with his extended family), are hilarious, but it’s more rewarding to watch her as she learns to take charge of her own life. As usual, Kinsella has created a lovely cast of quirky supporting characters—Ava and Matt’s friends might even be more fun to read about than the romance.
A sweet, mishap-filled look at what it takes to create lasting love between two people with separate lives.
Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Dial Press
Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020