Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Second Date

The Second Date:
Love Italian-American Style

by Mary Lydon Simonsen

(CreateSpace / 1-442-15721-6 / 978-1-442-15721-7 / June 2009 / 170 pages / $11.95)

Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM

Talk to any person in my generation with an Italian-American heritage, and you will find certain common characteristics. When they were growing up, they almost certainly had a room in their house where no one dared enter – the formal living room where the carpets bore no trace of footprints and the only visitor important enough to use it was the priest. Their mothers probably used wooden spoons as weapons. Dating a non-Italian was bad, a non-Catholic worse, and bringing home a Jewish date who didn’t even believe in Christ was a crisis of soap-opera proportions. Funerals were like Greek tragedies, and let’s not get started on Thanksgiving dinner.

The Second Date is, in part, a comedy romance revolving around the dating adventures of Sonia Amundsen (very Italian, in spite of her half-Norwegian heritage), but it is also an endearing web of family stories that traces several generations of an Italian-American family. As Sonia nears her thirtieth birthday, helpful friends and relatives set her up on a series of blind dates, which Sonia views as excellent fodder for the novels she writes, but not a likely source of romance for herself. In fact, Sonia has never gone on a second date with any of her blind dates and now views The Second Date almost superstitiously as the hallmark of Mr. Right.

Mary Simonsen’s narrative wends its way through Sonia’s family history, diverting occasionally into the stories of neighbors and friends. You’ll meet Aunt Gina and Aunt Angie, rival sisters always striving to outdo each other in histrionics. You’ll meet Sonia’s father, Lars Amundsen, an “adopted” Italian with eyes like boiled marbles whose calm and thoughtful nature has made him the neighborhood sage. The cast is rounded out with brothers, sisters-in-law, old boyfriends, blind dates, and a charming man who’d like to break Sonia’s no-second date curse.

My copy of the book was an unedited proof copy, but even so it was remarkably clean and a smooth read. I have no doubt the final version will be up to professional standards. The Second Date is a slim book, just over 160 pages. Like a good antipasto, it’s colorful, flavorful, and full of tantalizing little nuggets that aren’t too filling – an excellent summer read, in fact, for fans of light romance, or anyone who grew up Italian-American in the 80’s.

See Also: The High Spirits Review
Mary Simonsen's Authors Den Page
Mary Simonsen's Website
Mary Simonsen's Blog
Searching for Pemberley

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