Lost Hearts in Italy. Andrea Lee.

Lee, Andrea. Lost Hearts in Italy. Random House, New York, 2006. F;6/19.

This is a love triangle, or really more like a pentagon or hexagon, involving wealthy highly-educated cosmopolitan characters who are almost without exception drop-dead gorgeous. Sex and big money are everywhere, a pretty tried-and-true recipe for publishing success, but in case we start to worry that we are wading in the ooze of People Magazine or Kardashianism, nearly all the major characters graduated from Ivy League universities, all the Americans speak Italian, all the Italians fulfill the American popular stereotype of their country, and the whole thing is delivered in literary and at times charming style. Too bad that if you also want character depth, dramatic interest, or anything with a heart and soul, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Lee was living in Italy and about 55 when this book was published. Online photos, taken I’m guessing at least 15 years before this novel’s publication, suggest there may be an autobiographical (or aspirationally so) aspect to her story. Certainly much of the content here is about good looks and how that matches up with fabulous wealth. There is an icy Italian billionaire, dozens of fashion-model females, a main male character who is rich, six foot three, athletic, handsome, and a world champion in bed, and kids all in expensive private schools headed for Harvard.

This novel aims to be a cut above standard summer romantic trash, but it’s well below anything that might make you stop and think (except maybe to wonder why someone who writes as well as Andrea Lee would publish this sort of thing late in her career). Better you should watch Netflix. 6.4/7.9

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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