#Bookreview – The Italian Assistant (previously Poggibonsi) by Dan Alatorre

What Amazon says

“Funny, Sexy, Heartbreaking, Hilarious”

When a married man’s overseas business deal goes wrong, the one person who can help him has ideas of her own. A madcap comedy where true love finally prevails and everyone lives happily ever after—but only after a lot of screwups.

Family man Mike Torino lands an important business project in Italy, home of naked art, Valentino, and taxi-crashing yoga pants, so he brings along his wife, hoping to rekindle their marriage while securing a promotion. But romance gets derailed by head colds, constant bickering, and assaults from ankle-breaking cobblestone streets. Their daughter develops a gelato addiction. Mike’s Italian partner has a coronary. And as for amore . . . Mattie tells Mike to handle things himself—and storms back to America.

Mike is trapped. Leaving Italy will blow a promotion; staying might cost him his wife and family.

While reeling from Mattie’s frantic departure, a replacement liaison is assigned—a top-notch, beautiful young Italian woman who is instantly smitten with Mike and determined to reveal the passions of her homeland—whether he wants to see them or not! Normally immune, Mike is tempted—but is headstrong, voluptuous Julietta worth the risk?

My review

Poggibonsi is a light hearted and humorous read, as its title suggests. I don’t read many books in this genre as my taste runs more to supernatural and horror books, but I read the blurb for this book and it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to give it a try.

The story revolves around a high flying corporate financier, Mike, who works for a high profile and successful company and who has an idea to create an exclusive holiday and recreation facility in Tuscany, Italy. His “tough as nails” boss likes the idea and gives Mike the go ahead to head for Italy and convince the locals to sell their businesses and properties to his company and become participants in the project.

Right from the beginning, Mike comes across as a nice man, but a conflicted one. He desperately wants to be at the top of his game from a business perspective and to become a partner in his company, but he also wants to be a good husband and father. I identified with his internal conflict as I work in the corporate finance world and understand the cut-throat and ruthless nature of transactions and deals. It is tough on the families of the top players as they work excessively long hours, travel frequently and are continuously under a great deal of pressure.

Mike is married with a young daughter, and his marriage is suffering due to his career choice. He convinces his wife, Mattie, to come with him to Italy, together with their daughter, for a family holiday before he starts work in Tuscany. Mattie agrees and that is when all the trouble starts as everything that can go wrong does. Traveling with a young child is always a challenge and the author brings out the humorous side of everything to do with family travel, including misplaced baggage, a lost child, sickness and excessive shopping.

I didn’t particularly like the character of Mattie. Perhaps because I understand the world of deal making so well, I felt she was very unsupportive of her husband’s career and ambitions. She is angry when Mike’s Italian partner has a heart attack and ends up in hospital and didn’t want him to visit the sick man which felt very selfish and inconsiderate. Her poor attitude eventually results in her leaving Italy with their daughter in a huff and on bad terms with Mike. This, of course, leaves Mike wide open to the overtures of the beautiful Italian assistant who replaces his sick contact. His unsolicited and wild romance with Julietta is fraught with all sorts of unexpected problems, some of which are accidental and some of with are created by either Mike or Juliette. Their ill advised exploits are hilarious and, while there are some sex scenes, they are not explicit and are aimed at being amusing rather than heavily erotic.

While this book is funny and will give you a good laugh, it also touches on a lot of sensitive and difficult situations modern families face in our fast paced world where the expectation is that business people should be available 24/7 and you are only as good as your last deal.

I enjoyed Poggibonsi a great deal and would recommend it to people who enjoy a humorous look at the trials and tribulations of life and romance.

Purchase The Italian Assistant

23 thoughts on “#Bookreview – The Italian Assistant (previously Poggibonsi) by Dan Alatorre

  1. I don’t normally read in this genre either, Robbie (or at least not frequently), but this does sound like a fun book. And your review looked at both sides while addressing the difficulties of the business angles as well. Excellent insight!

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    1. Hi Carla, the cover is a bit misleading, as their is a lot more to this story than an extra marital affair. It also probes life in this sort of deal making world and the sacrifices people make to earn the big money. Life is never easy and it is hard to draw lines in the sand when it comes to boundaries. I should know, my two weeks leave has been Monday to date this week.

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    1. Hi Kerfe, portable computers and cell phones have turned work into something that has no boundaries and never ends. It is hard to set boundaries when they are not respected and peoples expectations are that employees should work all day, half the night and half the weekend if not more.

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      1. I see this with my daughters, especially the older one. Her employer expects her to be available 24 hours a day. Something is going to have to change or everyone will break down and no work will get done.

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  2. I’m always interested when someone says “Italy,” but I’m not sure this book is for me. (It’s not my usual genre, either.) Still glad to see it reviewed here. Sounds like it was a fun read.

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