Elizabeth Caldwell is worried for her daughter, Marina. She tried her best to raise her on her own, and for the most part, she succeeded Ė Marina is a beautiful girl who believes she knows what her future holds at the age of twenty-one. She is engaged to a wealthy boy from her college, the first boy she ever dated. Unfortunately, Elizabeth isnít entirely sure that marriage is the best thing for Marina.
Jotham, Marinaís fiancť, tends to be controlling Ė while he does love Marina, he seems to trample over her thoughts and wishes and think nothing of it. Elizabeth also thinks that Marinaís engagement at a young age might be a reaction to the father who never wanted to be in her life.
In order to reconnect with her daughter before her marriage, Elizabeth plans a trip for the two of them to Florence, Italy. She hopes to find the chance to talk to her daughter about marriage and commitment, as well as to make sure that Marina understands what life with Jotham will be like. At the same time, Elizabeth is thinking about her own boyfriend, Rob, with whom she is very much in love but canít bring herself to marry despite thirteen years of happiness with him. Why is Marina in such a hurry to get married to a man Elizabeth isnít sure is right for her, yet Elizabeth canít commit to the perfect man?
Tuscan Holiday is a wonderful and heartwarming story about the relationship between a mother and a daughter. Chamberlin explores the relationship dynamic very well within this novel. They are both endearing characters, though Marinaís selfishness surfaces a bit too often and is incredibly grating. Elizabethís ability to hold her tongue and let her daughter find her own path is really admirable Ė itís difficult to let a child make their own mistakes. Sheís a great character who is very easy to like.
Marina is a little more difficult to like. Itís hard to understand why she allows Jotham to walk all over her. While he is in no way abusive, he clearly does not respect her opinion. In a lot of ways, when the novel begins, Marina does not know herself or what she truly wants. Itís only over the course of Tuscan Holiday that she really begins to grow up. As she develops in the novel, she begins to question her motives and desires when it comes to getting married.
Tuscan Holiday is the ultimate travelogue. If you are a fan of Florence, or of novels that feature travel, you will love this book. The descriptions of Florence are absolutely wonderful and spot-on. Chamberlin manages to evoke the atmosphere of the beautiful Tuscan city merely with her words. Itís easy to close your eyes and imagine the sights and sounds of the book surround you.
Tuscan Holiday is an engaging novel and a lot of fun to read. The mother-daughter dynamic as well as the development of the individual characters are really interesting. Additionally, the vivid depiction of Florence adds to the atmosphere of this well-written novel. This is a great summer read for any fan of womenís fiction.