Recap: When three women have moments of crises, they decide it’s not time for an escape, but for a new life altogether. So begins Rome for Beginners, set in modern-day Rome, telling the stories of three American women who have left the States only to meet and befriend each other in Rome. They have become close, and together, they struggle with everyday problems — work, ex-husbands, children, and dating. But to add to it all, they’re in a foreign country, attempting to learn a new language and culture.
Suzanne has been living in Rome for years. Her ex is Italian, and her son is a problem child. Lilian is divorced and dating a younger Italian man named Massimo, but she’s supposed to be working on a big project for her job back in the United States. Brennan is a runner who has found work but could be deported at any time. Sex And the City meets Eat, Pray, Love, this is a story about women searching for love, happiness and self-actualization. They rely on their friendship to achieve it all. But can they? And can they do it in Rome of all places?
Analysis: On the surface, Rome for Beginners is a sort of combination of SATC and Eat, Pray, Love but not quite on that caliber. There’s a group of middle-aged friends attempting to get in the dating game and find themselves. But to that end, we don’t see a lot of character development or growth during the course of the novel. Brennan is the only character who faces the most significant changes at the end — and all at once — but the others more or less continue living their lives. Maybe that’s just realistic. But I found myself, waiting for this big turnaround moment to happen that never seem to came.
That’s not to say Rome for Beginners doesn’t have its fair share of charm and humor; it does. Each chapter of the book takes the perspective of another woman, so the reader gets an in-depth look at each of the characters. But it’s the moments when the women are together that are the most enjoyable. Their friendships are strong and hysterical in ways that female friendships often are. When embarrassing or seemingly tragic things happen, they have each other to make light of it and help each other out.
Rome for Beginners is light and cute — a good, quick summer read. But at the end, I found myself wondering what was the point? But maybe, that was the point.
MVP: Brennan. On a personal level, I could relate to her the most. But the best thing about Brennan is that she comes closest to achieving self-actualization, even though other events force her to get to that point. At the end of the novel, I was proud of and happy for Brennan.