The Italian Party, by Christina Lynch, carries a title that is a bit of a double entendre, for it refers to both the party atmosphere of life around the piazza, and the power struggle that is party politics in postwar Italy. The Italian Party is a commentary on the legacy of war, no matter on which side you stand.
It is 1956. Newlyweds, Michael and Scottie, are in love with Tuscany’s incredible beauty even more than they love each other. They each have their own secrets that carry them along differing paths such that they view Italy, and even America, as well as each other, far differently.
Scottie, a very sheltered and mostly innocent young woman, quickly discovers her own dark side as she is drawn into the seductiveness of some of the local men, and begins to question her view of the world. At Michael’s request, Robertson, a local teenager, begins teaching Italian to Scottie, then mysteriously disappears. As Scottie tries to assist in the search for him, she and Michael become suspects in his disappearance.
Michael’s dream is to teach art history. Instead, he has been recruited and sent to Italy to help prevent communism from gaining a foothold in that country, with the pretext of opening a Ford tractor dealership. He quickly learns he is a pawn in a game much larger than himself. He, too, struggles with his own life choices, and the differences with which he was born.
After a brief separation, Michael and Scottie find their way back to each other, but only after sharing their most closely held secrets about themselves. They must come to terms not only with their own lives, but also with what they have learned about America’s postwar activities in Europe.
The Italian Party is full of spies, mouthwatering descriptions of food, a little sex, glamorous people, even horse races. While I would not call it a page-turner, I would call it an eye opener. I did enjoy it, and I learned a lot, and was reminded of the fact that countries have been interfering with other countries’ politics for generations, and it is not likely to stop. If you enjoy historical fiction and/or a good suspense novel, you will enjoy The Italian Party.