August 5, 2015

Regrets in Rome

Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Macmillan; St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320 pages
Source & Format: Publisher; ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
When Amelia Tate is cast to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday, she feels as if all her dreams have come true. She has a handsome boyfriend, is portraying her idol in a major motion picture, and gets to live in beautiful Rome for the next two months.

Once there, she befriends a young woman named Sophie with whom she begins to explore the city. Together, they discover all the amazing riches that Rome has to offer. But when Amelia’s boyfriend breaks up with her over her acting career, her perfect world begins to crumble.

While moping in her hotel suite, Amelia discovers a stack of letters written by Audrey Hepburn that start to put her own life into perspective. Then, she meets Philip, a handsome journalist who is under the impression that she is a hotel maid, and it appears as if things are finally looking up. The problem is she can never find the right time to tell Philip her true identity. Not to mention that Philip has a few secrets of his own. Can Amelia finally have both the career and love that she’s always wanted, or will she be forced to choose again?

Thoughts on Rome in Love
As a lover of all things Audrey Hepburn, I knew I couldn't pass up on a book inspired by Roman Holiday. It's one of my favorite films, and I've always thought that the movie would make a great book! I had high hopes, even though I didn't quite know what to expect. But I figured I was in for an adventure in Italy either way!

Amelia Tate never expected to be cast in the remake of Roman Holiday, especially not in the starring role. All eyes are on the newcomer playing the role that Audrey Hepburn made famous, and Amelia hopes she's up for the challenge. It should be an exciting time in her life, but there's drama with her boyfriend back at home and lots of attention in the spotlight. Amelia needs an escape, and she finds it in the streets of Rome. Add in a new friend, a handsome journalist and an undiscovered treasure, and you've got Rome in Love.

I think the oddest part about this book for me is that it frequently referenced Roman Holiday and put the heroine in a story that's remarkably similar to that film. I knew before I started the book that the main character was starring in a remake of Roman Holiday, so I expected the story to focus on her life on set, her take on this classic role, her interactions with the press, and the pressure of life in the spotlight. I assumed Amelia would have her own story, and the setting would be a fun nod to one of my favorite movies. I didn't realize that the book was essentially just going to modernize and retell Roman Holiday.

There are numerous aspects of Amelia's story that are pulled almost straight from the movie, and I actually found it distracting. How could she be starring in this supposedly huge remake and fail to see all the ways her own life was mirroring the movie? It was hard for me to suspend my disbelief, and I ended up wishing that the book had been either a Roman Holiday retelling without the movie storyline or a different story that incorporated the idea of an actress starring in Roman Holiday remake. By combining the retelling and the movie remake story, it felt less creative and more recycled. 

But I think those aspects of the plot wouldn't have bothered me as much if the writing had been better. Unfortunately, however, I had some major issues with it. Rome in Love definitely suffers from telling instead of showing. The first three paragraphs of the first chapter start with "Amelia stood...," "Amelia smoothed..." and "Amelia tried..." A few pages later, it's "Amelia heard...," "Amelia blinked" and "Amelia remembered..." and this continued for the rest of the book. It sounds nitpicky, but it became tedious to read. 

There were also a lot of detailed descriptions of what characters were wearing, eating or seeing, and it didn't happen in a way that felt natural or fluid to the story. It was a little jarring and largely irrelevant. I wanted Rome to come alive - to feel like I was there with Amelia and to be able to see it in my mind. But that just never happened. There was barely any energy in the story, and it prevented me from emotionally connecting to the main character or becoming invested in what I was reading.

I almost called it quits before the end of Rome in Love, and it might have been better if I had. This book didn't work for me, but it might have partly been my mood or the timing. I wish there was more I could say in its favor, but I just wasn't the right reader for it in the end. If you do pick it up, I hope you enjoy it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

2 comments:

  1. It's rather unfortunate that you wound up disliking Rome in Love, particularly because it could have been such a promising novel that gives a nod to Roman Holiday. It's too bad it really didn't work out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah I know you and Rachel were excited about this one so I'm sorry to hear that it didn't meet your expectations. It's always frustrating when a book makes it impossible to suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy the story.

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