August 11, 2015

Review: Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

Rome, in Love by Anita Hughes
Publication date: Aug. 4, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Category: Adult - Contemporary Fiction
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, it's as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major movie, & gets to live in Rome for the 2 months. Once there, she befriends a woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the riches Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting, her perfect world begins to crumble. It's then Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that put her own life into perspective. Then she meets Philip, a journalist who thinks she's a hotel maid, and it seems like things are looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell him the truth + he has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career & love or will she be forced to choose again? (greads.com)

The Good
After reading Rome in Love, I went on an Audrey Hepburn movie binge. I watched Paris When It Sizzles, Charade and Funny Face. Longtime fans, like myself, will probably have the same reaction upon reading it and I think this will make non-fans curious to learn more about her (I hope!). In this book, we follow Amelia Tate who has been cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday. Already an up-and-coming actress, this is going to put her on the map. Between her current success, her longtime boyfriend and filming in Rome, she feels on top of the world. Of course, this moment ends up becoming a turning point in so many ways.

And it all starts when her boyfriend shows up essentially breaking up with her over her acting career. We immediately get a sense of how much she loves acting and the fulfillment she gets from it. But understandably it does make her wonder if she’ll have to always choose between acting and a potential love. Still, Amelia doesn’t spend much time moping and gets back onto her feet with the support of three people - new friend Sophie, a journalist named Philip who rescues her one drunken night and Audrey Hepburn herself (more on this in a minute!). With Sophie, she has a companion to explore all the sights in Rome whether it’s shopping, the culture or the food. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s vivid descriptions of what they saw. With Philip, I’m sure you can guess the romantic tension between these two. They’re both keeping secrets from the other. He thinks she’s a maid and she lets him believe that. And he’s hiding something from her too which you know can’t end well. And then there’s Audrey. Amelia is staying in the same hotel room Audrey did when she filmed the original Roman Holiday and lo and behold, Amelia finds a set of letters written by Audrey hidden in the room.

(Some) reservations
I have no idea what Audrey sounds like “in real life” because I’ve only seen her playing a role. But the voice in the letters matches what I’ve seen in the movies. Optimistic, romantic, a bit innocent, vulnerable and in love with life. I don't know how true they are to her real voice though but I think it was the letters more than anything that made me want to re-watch Audrey Hepburn's movies. Which is why I was surprised and disappointed that they didn’t play a bigger role in the book. They were such a good addition but weren’t utilized as much as I had hoped. I think if that had been more of the focus instead of the convoluted, multiple dramas going on, Amelia (and Audrey) really would have shined in this story.

Do I recommend?
I think it’s a fun beach read that would encourage an Audrey newbie to learn more about her. And I thought some of the ways in which Roman Holiday was incorporated into the book was clever, although a bit out there at times. If you're in the mood for something light, give this a try.

2 comments:

  1. After reading Hannah's review, I'm not really surprised to hear that this one didn't totally work for you. It's unfortunate that one of the big "gimmicks" of the book (Audrey) wound up not being as well-executed as it good have been. But yay movie binges! Charade is definitely one of my top five favorite movies of all time. I watch it any time it's on TV.

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  2. You and Hannah already talked to me about this book! It's so unfortunate that it didn't quite wind up working so well, particularly the Audrey Hepburn bits that were included. But it's nice that it made you want to watch all of those films of hers again!

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