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One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Contemporary fiction

One Italian Summer

by Rebecca Serle

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Quick take

Perfect vacation-read ingredients: sun-soaked beaches, silk dresses, copious pasta & wine, your reincarnated mother...

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_International


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical



When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of One Italian Summer.
One Italian Summer

Chapter One

I’ve never smoked, but it’s the last day of my mother’s shiva, so here we are. I have the cigarette between my teeth, standing on the back patio, looking at what was, just two months ago, a pristine white sectional, now weatherworn. My mother kept everything clean. She kept everything.

Carol’s rules to live by:

• Never throw away a good pair of jeans.

• Always have fresh lemons on hand.

• Bread keeps for a week in the fridge and two months in the freezer.

• OxiClean will take out any stain.

• Be careful of bleach.

• Linen is better than cotton in the summer.

• Plant herbs, not flowers.

• Don’t be afraid of paint. A bold color can transform a room.

• Always arrive on time to a restaurant and five minutes late to a house.

• Never smoke.

I should say, I haven’t actually lit it.

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Why I love it

One Italian Summer is about love, mothers, daughters, the timelessness of Positano, and food. But mainly, love—the love between friends, the love between parents and children, the love between spouses, the love between strangers, the love of self, the loves that consume and last a lifetime, and the loves that are pleasant but fleeting. I find Rebecca Serle’s vision of the world to be profoundly hopeful: love is unexpected and all around us; love can transform and transcend death.

Katy is grieving the recent death of her mother, Carol. As a young woman, Carol had spent a memorable summer in Positano, and Carol and Katy had planned to take the same trip together. Katy decides to take the trip solo, and that’s where our story begins.

A particular pleasure of One Italian Summer is the way it evokes both the sensual details and the experience of travel—the way jet lag can feel like a dream state; the fullness that follows a great Italian meal; the quick intimacies one makes while on a trip; the way vacation time feels different, maybe even beyond the laws of quantum physics; the power of travel to heal, and the possibility that the traveler might reinvent herself.

I adored reading One Italian Summer—it reminded me of its author, who is my friend. Like her books, Rebecca is thoughtful, a great host and conversationalist, a little magic. And I think readers gravitate to her books because they feel like they are written by a friend. We know we will be nourished and entertained. We know our glasses will never be empty. We trust her companionship on vacation or anywhere else we might find ourselves in life.

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Member ratings (12,015)

  • Sabrina S.

    Arden, NC

    A beautiful and quick read that takes place in an unforgettable hotel with characters you can’t help but love. This is my second book I’ve read by Rebecca Serle and I am always captivated. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jean V.

    Simi Valley, CA

    I haven’t read a book like this in ages……I’m in love, I will definitely be gifting this book to all my family and friends…. Now I want to go to Positano! My only complaint, the book is too short ????❤️

  • Crystal W.

    Colorado Springs, CO

    I first borrowed the ebook and fell so strongly in love with it that I needed to own a physical copy. Heartbreaking, sweet, funny. Handling grief and navigating a mother-daughter relationship. ❤️❤️❤️

  • Heather O.

    Columbus, GA

    This was such a fun read! It definitely has Sterle’s “wrinkle in time” twist, but I felt like it was much lighter than “In Five Years.” A great book to read with your mom and appreciate her more for!

  • Leslie F.

    Kingwood, TX

    I started this book before bed &kept reading “just one more chapter”. Now the sun is up &I’ve finished the book!It pulled me in with the lovely descriptions and the question “what do I really want?”

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