Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Second Date by Mary Lydon Simonsen

GENRE: contemporary romance

SUMMARY: Sonia Amundsen looks like a Nordic goddess on the outside, but her heart, soul, and stomach are all Italian. She is also a successful professional who is about to celebrate her 30th birthday. Although friends have been setting her up on blind dates for two years, she never goes out on a second date with any of them because she is still looking for that perfect guy. The problem is that she has very specific criteria as to who Mr. Right is. Sonia is beginning to think that such a man is not out there until.... Set in the late 1980s, Sonia is surrounded by an extended Italian family, a caring, but over-bearing mother, warring aunts who use family funerals to stage full-blown tragedies, and a close friend, whose main goals in life are to get pregnant and to help Sonia find true love. The Second Date explores friendship and love in the heart of the Italian-American community where food is second importance only to love.

While reading The Second Date, I had an amazing, heart-warming feeling in my chest. It's a beautiful, touching story not just about Sonia Amundsen, the protagonist, but it is also a story about her family and about her roots. Sonia and her family are completely ordinary people that you could meet around the corner on your way to the local shop, but Simonsen made their lives a little less ordinary, as every single person that appears in the novel is an individual, a special person. I like the way she focused on every person. Every character that appears has a personal story to tell, a history behind them, traditions,beliefs, traits, even if a character appears only in one chapter. They're not just named characters you need to get on with the story. They're living, breathing creatures that, after reading the novel, seem so familiar, as if you'd met them and talked to them before. I appreciate that a lot. It really makes the story seem real, like it's an actual family chronicle.

The author touched a theme that is, I think, a very important American subject - immigrants and their lives in America. I personally think that her take on the colourful Italian - American community is spot on. Knowing Italians, I think they'd approve of how they are portrayed. I kept thinking: "Wow, it would be so cool to be a part of such a big, but such a close family." Why? I think mostly because the Carellis/Amundsens are so open and genuine. It seems that lies are not an option in their world. I don't know if the author intended for her novel to have a message or not, but I found one: family and one's roots are really important. They define you very deeply and clearly and, in normal circumstances, your family is the one group of people you can always go to at the end of the day and they'll accept you with an embrace. Family's important. Heritage is important. This is one of the aspects that make this novel very inspiring and heart-warming.

The story itself is really romantic and fun, but realistic, too. It's very optimistic, and as an optimist and a romantic myself, I was all smiles at the end. The idea of a woman who never goes on a second date is very intriguing, and the author executed the idea really well. The Second Date is a wonderful piece of fiction, one that I will definitely return to in the future. I recommend it!


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