What did Suzie say to Alexandra to cause her to throw prosecco over her in front of a full restaurant?
Before being introduced to the two main characters of this novel, you can’t help but be drawn in by the prologue.
Intrigued by who these two individuals are and what has caused this outburst, there is a real desire to continue reading to find out the full story.
Suzie Cartwright, a 28-year-old Ph.D. graduate has been asked to accompany Lord Tedburn’s daughter, Alexandra on a trip to Italy. As an Italian speaker, who spent her summers on the Tuscan Coast, it seems like the perfect excuse to revisit a country where she spent so much time.
At the time of the job offer, Suzie was expecting to be introduced to a belligerent teenager, not a defiant 26-year-old adult. It seems however that the only way Alexandra is going to get to see Italy is if she is accompanied and for some reason, whether it is because Suzie is the daughter of the local vicar, he has decided that she would be the perfect person, offering her a financial incentive that she would struggle to turn down.
But really, why does a 26-year-old need a chaperon?
Turns out, Suzie was going to quickly find out.
Within hours of landing in Venice and checking into one of the fanciest hotels in the city Alexandra has found herself a “suave, slick Latin lover with his stylish suit and predatory eyes”, and despite her protests and carefully considered words, Alexandra seems quite happy to be seen with him even though he must be at least 10 years older.
Playing babysitter to someone just a few years younger is definitely not going to be easy especially when it seemed that every phone call home could result in a visit from Alexandra’s older brother Rafa.
We do get to read about some of the finer things that Venice has to offer though. From their disappointing visit to the famous Harry’s Bar to their visit to the overly-expensive Caffè Florian in St Marks Square.
After their brief trip to Venice however, we see the girls moving from the floating city to Lake Garda and the home of Alexandra’s love interest, James.
It is at this stage that we get to find out more about Suzie and her Ph.D. studies as she stumbles upon her next-door neighbour, a scholar she is very familiar with, Professor Macgregor Brown, and a diehard Shakespeare fan, just like Suzie.
Perhaps the strongest pull for Suzie to accompany Alex on her trip to Italy was the thought of visiting Verona, a long-sort-after destination for her. Since reading Romeo and Juliet her fascination with the city has simply grown and she cannot wait to explore the cobbled side streets and medieval buildings. Nothing can dampen her spirits, not even the emotionally unavailable artist that she seems to be falling for.
Dreaming of Verona is a heart-warming story where dreams really can come true. Not only do we read about the developing friendship of two very different women, we learn more about not only one of the greatest writers ever to live but also some of the more highbrow discussions that I am sure scholars the world over frequently explore.
This novel also gives the reader a chance to learn more about the area around northern Italy – Verona, Mantua, and Lake Garda – perhaps before visiting for themselves.
My Thoughts on Dreaming of Verona
Being both a Shakespeare fan and someone that has lived on the shores of Lake Garda for the past four years I was drawn to this novel. I wanted to see whether T.A. Williams could capture the true beauty of the city of Verona; a city so frequently overlooked when people visit the region of Veneto for its far-more popular sister, Venice, and I have to say he did not disappoint.
I also like that this is not a pure story of romance. Ok, so there is a strong element of love resonating throughout the book but it is after all set in one of the most romantic countries in the world, so it was evitable. However, T.A. Williams also highlights some of the controversies surrounding Shakespeare and the city of Verona. He doesn’t shy away from topics I know many literature students have discussed for generations – including who the Bard really was? Was he male or female? Did he visit Italy (after all a third of his plays are set there)? He also goes on to mention ideas about Verona itself that have been disputed by Shakespeare fans for years but I do not want to share them with you at this stage for fear of ruining part of the storyline for future readers.
Dreaming of Verona is so much more than a romance novel; it is a knowledgeable glance into the world of one of the greatest ever English writers. I flew through the pages finishing in one afternoon desperate to find out not only what happens between Suzie and her artist but I needed to know the importance of Professor Macgregor Brown to the outcome of the story.
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