True Vines by Diana Strinati Baur

5 stars*****
I've attempted writing a review for this book several times now and for some reason I am having difficulty putting into words exactly why I loved it as much as I did. So, simply put... I guess I was just truly connected "emotionally" to the character of Meryl. Was she occasionally an annoying and unlikable character? Yes... but, I think that's why I liked her. She is flawed, a bit self absorbed and can't seem to move past a betrayal by her fiancé and best friend from her youth. She spends a good portion of her life wallowing in her own self misery and never moving forward until Francesco suddenly appears in her life. An older charismatic Italian man who quickly wins her heart. She finally decides to take a chance at love and moves away with him to his small village in Italy.
The story begins with Meryl returning to Pennsylvania after Francesco died suddenly. She runs away from Italy in an effort to cope with her grief and find a way to move forward. The best way for me to describe Meryl's journey is that some people come into our lives just for a little while. And, even though Francesco was a short chapter in her life, he was the most important chapter. He was her light and strength and gave her courage to finally become the person she was meant to be. The title "True Vines" is a perfect fit for this story. Meryl finds the truth of herself during her years in Italy as she is constantly challenged by the simplistic but also often challenging lifestyle she was living there. It wasn't until after Francesco died and fleeing back to Pennsylvania that she was able to finally fully understand the impact he and Italy had made on her life.
This story is primarily about Meryl finally growing up, discovering the truth of who she is and making peace with her past while at the same time learning to accept the people around her for who they are... flaws and all. It is also about endings and beginnings. Throughout the book we see many lives draw to a close as others are beginning. It's about moving forward, acceptance, closure and taking chances.
My only complaint about this book is that I didn't think we needed closure for every character at the end. In particular with the ex-fiancé and best friend. The effort to tie everything up with a big red bow was a little over the top. But, I decided to make my peace with this one complaint because this book is so well written. There were so many times I needed to reach for my hankie... and, I was fully engaged in this book from beginning to end. And, several days later I'm still thinking about this story. So, yes... that's a winner as far as I'm concerned.
This is a book you read for the emotional journey and definitely one you will want to pick up if you are looking for a great big Happily Ever After with complete closure and no loose ends! Beautifully written and I highly recommend.

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley.



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