A while back I posted that “My Book Club Is Reading for Robin.” Well, fast forward six weeks and my book club read for Robin. Last night we met to discuss this month’s pick: An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser.
The book is a memoir that follows Fraser after her painful divorce. Still reeling from the heartbreak, she takes off for a trip to Italy where she meets an exciting French professor. What starts as a random and brief fling turns into a full-blown affair, bringing the two together all over the world and reminding Fraser how to feel good about herself with men again.
This was another of the books I read last weekend on my vacation and it was a good beach read. I enjoyed it for what it was – an appealing story of romance with dazzling scenes that made me insanely jealous I wasn’t somewhere more exotic like Italy or Morrocco. However, while far from being trashy chick lit, An Italian Affair also didn’t provide a lot of meaty material. I thought to myself, What would my book club have to talk about?
As it turned out, slightly more than I thought we would. Our main topics of conversation revolved around the style of writing and thoughts about extramarital affairs.
In an unusual technique for memoirs, Fraser writes the book in the second person, using “you” instead of “I.” Unfortunately, the book clubbers and I agreed that this was off-putting and distracting. We speculated that she did this to perhaps make us feel like we were right there in the middle of this whirlwind too, but in fact we were not and I am okay with that.
The idea of extramarital affairs offered the most in the way of thoughtful discussion. Fraser herself suffered when her husband started seeing someone else, but then she goes and carries on her own affair with the married professor. We wondered, is it different because the professor and his wife seem to have an agreement on these matters? Is it a cultural difference? Is there any excuse? I’m still unsure about my feelings on that one… it did seem less horrible because of the professor’s relationship with his wife, but whenever children are involved things get murky.
Once these questions were tackled the conversation drifted off towards more fluffy topics of travel and dating. Then dessert was served and the discussion was replaced by chitchat. The book had provided all the substance it could, but perhaps it was better left as entertaining poolside reading.