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Siracusa by Delia Ephron


by Delia Ephron

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I am glad I never married an Ephron. Famous sister Nora married Pulitzer Prize winning writer Carl Bernstein, and when he cheated on him, she left him, wrote it funny and launched a career. Younger sister Delia considers two marriages in Siracusa, neither particularly happy, and their collision, on a forcefully cheery group trip to Italy. From the outside, Finn and Taylor and Lizzie and Michael each look like the perfect couple. But inside, their marriages are crumbling from years of secrets, resentments and blind yearning for something better. Added to this mix is Finn and Taylor's beautiful, but strange daughter Snow, who slides through the narrative as quietly and destructively as a ghost.


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The Rock where people sunbathe ( )
  JessicaCad | Aug 16, 2017 |
Finished this late last night. I really enjoyed it, so don't let the 3-star rating fool you -- it was interesting and well-written and generally, well, enjoyable.

At the same time, I don't think I'll carry much of this with me, having finished it. Five star reads are the ones that stick with me, that I find myself thinking about and wanting to talk to people about. Four star reads are the ones where something pretty great stands out clearly to me, such that it's earned at least a temporary place in my memory. Siracusa, for whatever reason, fell short of that bar.

The book revolves around two couples, one of which brings along their preteen daughter, on a joint vacation to Italy. It's never quite clear to me why these two couples would choose to vacation together, as they don't seem to have a ton of shared history as couples (the husband of one couple and the wife of the other used to date, and it's hard for me to buy that both of the other partners are OK hanging out with their spouse's ex nonstop) or even like each other all that much.

I also found myself constantly struggling to remember which man was which. One of them was a restaurateur struggling with a cigarette addiction, and one of them was a semi-famous writer whose latest book is stalled, who's cheating on his wife with an astoundingly dumb young blond. But which one is named Finn and which one is named Michael? Which one is married to Lizzie and which one to the neurotic one in weird clothes, whose name I can't remember even though I finished reading this book literally 12 hours ago? Which one is the father of kid (whose name, sadly, is Snow)? How old is the kid again, that she can be holding hands with a man not her dad, but it's apparently not sketchy in the least? Seriously, one minute I think she must be 5 years old, the next she must be at least 15. (Turns out I should have split the difference.)

There's a twist that was actually a surprise to me, and reasonably satisfying, though in retrospect it seemed obvious and I am slightly ashamed that I missed the obvious cues.

All in all, the characters just didn't come alive for me, and while bits of the inevitable relationship drama certainly rang true, I guess I didn't care enough about the characters for that drama to be worthwhile.

That said, if this were made into a movie, I would watch it. Not quite Gone Girl, but enough of the sortof romantic comedy turned dark to be interesting, and quite a lot of the book was very visually appealing.
( )
  BraveNewBks | Aug 8, 2017 |
Two couples, Michael and Lizzie, and Finn and Taylor (plus daughter Snow) take a holiday together in Italy. Michael's lover, Kathy, turns up at the hotel and disasters (plural!) ensue.

The story is told by way of chapters in the first person by each of the four adults and there is a fair amount of build up and examination of the two marriages as well as descriptions of the enigmatic (i.e. plain weird) Snow. Snow's relationship with her mother, Taylor, was unsettling to say the least and the chapters from Taylor's perspective were excellent.

The ending was satisfying in many ways, but morally troubling. ( )
  pgchuis | Jul 24, 2017 |
I finished the book only because I loved visiting this area of Sicily. Unfortunately, there was not one character with whom I could identify. They were shallow self-centered people. That being said, these were the type of people needed in order to make the horrible murder of one husband’s lover realistic. ( )
  brangwinn | Apr 16, 2017 |
An Italian setting, unlikable characters, a creepy "shy" 10 year old, dysfunction, lies and secrets. What's not to like? We find out from the first pages that things don't turn out so well on a week long vacation in Italy, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough in this well-written novel to find out what happened.

I won't go into the plot. I think it's best for readers to go in knowing little to nothing, but I will say the story is told in 4 alternating voices that allows us to get inside each character's messy head. It's great to read the different perspectives of the same events. The twist near the end was well executed.

I read this on vacation and I'm very happy to be enjoying a week alone with my husband :) ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399165215, Hardcover)

An electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unraveled. 

New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present.  Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. With her inimitable psychological astuteness, and uncanny understanding of the human heart, Ephron delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 21 Feb 2016 01:35:25 -0500)

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