The European Journey Begins

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 (, 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:  :razz:)

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be “traveling” to different cities every day:
Monday 11/28: Pompeii at SOS Aloha (
Tuesday 11/29: Isle of Capri at the Stiletto Gang (
Wednesday 11/30: Venice at Girlfriends Book Club (
Thursday 12/1: Budapest at Women’s Fiction Writers (
Friday 12/2: Florence at Writer Unboxed (
Monday 12/5: London at Austen Authors (
Tuesday 12/6: Salzburg at Robin Bielman’s blog (
Wednesday 12/7: Lake Como at Brant Flakes (
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:

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:  

“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?

About Marilyn Brant

Marilyn Brant is a chocolate addict, a music junkie and the USA TODAY bestselling author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and A SUMMER IN EUROPE (2011), all from Kensington Books, as well as a number of light romantic comedies, including THE SWEET TEMPTATIONS COLLECTION (2013) and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH (2013). Her latest novel -- a coming-of-age romantic mystery called THE ROAD TO YOU -- was just released in October 2013!
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18 Responses to The European Journey Begins

  1. What a GREAT idea for a blog tour, Marilyn. Clever you! Congrats on the new release!
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Over at On the Tudor Trail

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Thanks for taking us on your mini-tour of Rome. I loved this blog, and loved the book! I went over to the risotto recipe. It looks wonderful, but 450 calories… I’ll very sadly pass for now.

    I clicked on the photo of you and your hubby. You and he are so cute together. Loved that, too. 🙂

    • Edie, you’re wonderful :).
      Thank you! I’ll tell hubby you liked the picture!! This one of him with the Bocca was always one of my favorite shots.
      And, sigh, about the calories in the risotto. I know. I would be afraid to count how many calories I devoured just yesterday, so I have to hold off on eating it now, too…
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Already Thankful…

  3. Marilyn, it is not that I am first generation Italian, or that romantic travels are the stuff that dreams are made of … it is that I love your voice. You are one of those great finds from this blog, and I look forward to your tour and enjoying your new book 🙂

    If the day came that I would travel to Italy, I must say I would go a bit more to the south to find my roots. In a small out island San Pietro off the coast of Sardinia where in Califorte my father was born.
    florence fois`s last blog was …Give thanks …

    • Oh, Florence, thank you!
      Your comment made my day :).
      I would love to see Sardinia and the islands around it, too (I’ve never been to that area of Italy and I’ve heard it’s beautiful), but it would be especially wonderful for you to see the place where your father was born. I hope you will get to go on a trip there sometime soon and come back with details to share and memories with which to delight us all…xo
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Already Thankful…

  4. Liz says:

    Even if your book weren’t set in Europe, you’d have me with the Sudoku-and-Mahjongg Club. 😉

    Look forward to the tour. Never been to Rome, as we head for my husband’s homeland, Greece.

    • Liz,
      You’re going to Greece?!! What a wonderful trip that will be… I hope you have a fantastic time!
      And LOL about the Sudoku-and-Mahjongg Club — I had a lot of fun creating that little group and even more laughs trying to learn how to play mahjong. I’m hopeless ;).
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Already Thankful…

  5. Mary Jo says:


    What a great idea for a blog tour! And PR. And a gift to your readers who by circumstances or choice are arm chair travelers! I’ve loved all your books I read so far and look forward to A Summer in Europe. And maybe I wish I had an Aunt Bea. 🙂

    • Mary Jo,
      Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to hear you like some of my other novels (yay!) and hope you’ll enjoy this new one, too… This travel tour is as much for me as for all the wonderful blog readers out there — I so miss being able to visit these beautiful cities abroad. Sharing the wanderlust a little like being there, though, right?! 😛
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Already Thankful…

  6. beth watson says:

    Congrats on the awesome reviews Marilyn! I can’t wait to read this book. I’ve been to most of the cities on your upcoming itinerary so will try to remember to pop by some of the future blogging you will be doing.

    Italy and Greece was my first trip to Europe when I was 16 years old. I loved the gelato. My most vivid memory is my friends and I were on a buggy ride in Rome and we asked the driver if he had some place we could put our empty gelato cups and he said of course and took them from us and threw them in the street. 🙂 Despite it not being the cleanest city in Europe, I totally fell in love with Rome. The food is delish, the men are quite friendly, and the architecture is gorgeous.

    I totally remember that scene from Roman Holiday. Love that movie!

    Can’t wait to travel once again to the cities on your upcoming itineary Marilyn and share my memories!

    • Beth, it will be so fun to get to hear your travel stories, too!!! I can just imagine what you said happening in Rome, LOL. And, ohhhhh, the gelato… Truly, I find myself eating it in my dreams sometimes. 😛 LOVE it so much!!

      As for Roman Holiday, I have one of the posters from the film in my office (it’s actually right above my desk) and every so often I start staring at it, remembering funny lines from the film (“Crowned Heads!”) and laughing at the Keats/Shelley debate and all the wonderful comedy. Eventually, I give in and just watch the whole thing again ;).
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Already Thankful…

  7. Robin says:

    I’ve never been to Europe , but hope to get there one day. There’s so much I want to see! The Amalfi Coast a must when I finally make the journey. Thanks for sharing your European stories with us – I look forward to following you around. 🙂

  8. Jakki L. says:

    Marilyn, I all of the recipes you share! You are a true foodie! 🙂 I Love me some food! Good thing I have been blessed with a high metabolism! I need to embrace it while I still have it, right?! 😉 Anyway, I’m loving this blog tour! Thanks!

  9. Chris Bails says:

    I have never been to anyplace in Europe, but would love to go. Italy would be awesome. If I could visit I would love to go to the Colosseum. I have seen it in movies and pictures, but would love to see it in person. I know that pictures do not do it justice. I have heard it is extremely beautiful. I would also love to just site see, walk around and look at stuff. The little shops and all the history.
    Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win. Congrats on the new release and would love to win and read this book.

    • Chris,
      Thanks so much for the good wishes and for going on my virtual travel/book tour with me! The Colosseum was one of those places that — even though I saw it with my own two eyes — I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at! It’s just so massive. This hugely historical landmark…right there along one of the main streets in Rome. 😛 From what you said, I think you’d love it, too… I hope you’ll get to visit Italy sometime soon!!
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Join Me for a Virtual Grand Tour of Europe!

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