All of us need a self-discovery once in a lifetime and even from time to time. It helps us to understand who we are and what we want from life as well as to unlock our long pressed desires or find out our unknown talents and skills. On such occasions close friends (and why not complete strangers) are of help. Or sometimes a travel is the necessary driving force for our change and self-discovery.
“Italian for Beginners” is neither a phrasebook for foreigners coming to Italy nor a grammar book in Italian. It’s a novel by Kristin Harmel that tells the story of a journey of the self-discovery of the 34-year-old accountant Cat, whose life in the big American city is boring, not thrilling, monotonous and no fun & party.
The book starts with the humiliation caused to her by her grandmother at Cat’s elder sister’s wedding. On that day the main character meets the restaurant owner – Michael Evangelisti, in his restaurant kitchen and soon after that she has a perfect date with him that ends in a complete disaster, unfortunately, due to a silly misunderstanding between them. But it’s not the end of their relationship since destiny always knows what to do. (At the end of the novel they are together again.)
Shortly after the wedding Cat takes up a journey of changing the scenery with the “help” of her too nosy colleague who makes her spontaneously book a flight overseas to the Eternal City and contact an old amore – Francesco. Arriving in Rome, everything starts perfectly with that guy but it is only a one-night stand because in the morning next day all arrangements to stay with him simply fall through due to Francesco’s arrogant and slick attitude towards her. And now Cat is alone living outside the lines for the very first time in her life. But it’s not for a long time as she makes friends with the fiery and eccentric Italian waitress, Karina, who is, actually, a friend of Michael’s. Didn’t I tell you destiny knows exactly what to do? 😉
The young lady offers her graciously a lodging where Cat can stay for the rest of the trip. And one evening on their way back from a ladies’ night in a bar in Rome they have a quarrel and Karina leaves her all alone in one of the tiny streets of the city. At that very moment Marco, a gentle and handsome Italian guy, finds Cat all of a sudden and from that time on commences Cat’s re-creation of some of the scenes from Audrey Hepburn’s famous movie “Roman Holiday”. Nice, a? Comedic scenes follow one after another in the novel. With Marco’s help Cat finds her own personality and secret talents, and she manages to change her boring life. Before going back to the United States, the main character finally meets face-to-face with her past, i.e. she has the courage to meet an acquaintance and that meeting is vital to her. Having returned home she is a new person, with brand new views of life because while in Rome, she learns a very important lesson which applies to all of us.
If we want to change our lives we have to make a self-discovery and find out the keys to our unknown selves (and why not nella città eterna)
And one more thing.
Sometimes we have to fall in order to fly. 🙂