Here, in the States, today is “Black Friday” and shops are bustling with deal-hunting customers. I’m not much of an in-store shopper at any time of year (note how I cleverly avoided admitting how much I buy online, especially at bookstore sites ), but when I would travel to interesting places abroad, I would always shop hop in foreign cities. I’ll admit to even loving the act of going shopping in some countries. This was especially true in Italy…
On Tuesday the 29th, my 3rd women’s fiction book, A Summer in Europe (http://tinyurl.com/3qk8nt8), comes out from Kensington. I am SO excited about its release! To celebrate, I wanted to do something a little different this time around. I wanted to take you all on a journey with me…to some of my favorite European sites, so I could share a few personal memories of places I loved. Places that left their mark on my heart and compelled me to write about them.
The novel is about a character named Gwendolyn Reese, who gets a month-long tour through Europe as a 30th birthday gift from her eccentric Aunt Bea and her aunt’s Sudoku-and-Mahjongg Club. She’s hesitant to leave Iowa and her insurance-agent boyfriend behind for the summer, but she’s never had an adventure overseas before and is soon convinced to go. First stop? Rome, Italy.
For me, the Italian capital holds a lot of personal memories because I did some of my graduate work there in the summer of 1994, alongside my new husband. We’d been married just over a year then, so we got to stay together as “roommates” in this little dorm room on Loyola University’s Rome Center Campus. Hard tile floors. Separate twin beds. No air conditioning. (It was July…we ended up buying a small fan, LOL.) But we were used to living in a one-bedroom loft apartment in the Chicago suburbs, so we didn’t really mind. Plus, we were in the heart of Italy! An easy bus ride away from the Vatican, the Colosseum and my favorite historical oracle: The Mouth of Truth (pictured above with my husband). In Italian, it’s La Bocca della Verità. Anyone remember that scene in “Roman Holiday” where Gregory Peck takes Audrey Hepburn there? A favorite classic film moment for me!
One of my most romantic (and delicious) Roman memories was a night when my husband and I went out to dinner with a small group of fellow students. It was a tiny little place, tucked away on some downtown sidestreet. Charming and intimate, we were served a creamy mushroom risotto that I still consider The Best Risotto I Ever Tasted. I have no doubt it had 9,000 calories, but if I can still remember it almost two decades later, you know it was good! (Here’s a Gourmet Mushroom Risotto recipe that just might come close: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/gourmet-mushroom-risotto/detail.aspx )
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be “traveling” to different cities every day:
Monday 11/28: Pompeii at SOS Aloha (http://sosaloha.blogspot.com)
Tuesday 11/29: Isle of Capri at the Stiletto Gang (http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com)
Wednesday 11/30: Venice at Girlfriends Book Club (http://girlfriendbooks.blogspot.com)
Thursday 12/1: Budapest at Women’s Fiction Writers (http://womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com)
Friday 12/2: Florence at Writer Unboxed (http://writerunboxed.com)
Monday 12/5: London at Austen Authors (http://austenauthors.net)
Tuesday 12/6: Salzburg at Robin Bielman’s blog (http://robinbielman.com/blog)
Wednesday 12/7: Lake Como at Brant Flakes (http://marilynbrant.blogspot.com)
And I’ll be featuring other cities in the days and weeks following, too, including Pisa, Zermatt, Vienna, Nice, Brussels and Paris. (The full trip itinerary will be listed and updated on my website: http://www.marilynbrant.com)
I hope you’ll join me for a few other stops on the tour!! And if you’d like to read an excerpt from A Summer in Europe, which is a Literary Guild and Rhapsody Book Club featured alternate selection for December 2011, you can find one here: http://www.marilynbrant.com/MBbooksEURO.html
“Brant’s newest…distinguishes itself with a charismatic leading man and very funny supporting cast, especially the wonderful elderly characters with their resonant message about living life to the fullest.” ~Publishers Weekly
“Brant’s charming and engaging tale will allow readers to immerse themselves in the magic and beauty of Europe along with the characters. Although the descriptions of the scenery are amazing, the development of the characters and their unique personalities are what really make this novel shine. What an enjoyable escape!” ~Romantic Times
Have any of you visited Rome? If so, what was one of your most memorable moments? (One of mine was making the traditional “3 wishes” in the Trevi Fountain above…) If you haven’t yet been to The Eternal City, what would be the first thing you’d want to see or do there?