What surprised me about Delia Ephron’s novel, Siracusa, is that I loved despising all the characters, even the little girl. Typically, if I don’t like at least a few of the characters in a book, I’ll put it right down. But, the two couples who travel on vacation together are each compelling in their dysfunctionality. Married New Yorkers, Michael and Lizzie, are both writers although Michael has attained the type of fame that Lizzie has not. Finn, a chef/owner of a Maine restaurant lives there with his wife, Taylor and young daughter, Snow. The three of them embark on their second trip with Michael and Lizzie(who was in a previous hot and heavy relationship with Finn) arriving first in Rome and then Sicily where they spend the rest of their vacation in the ancient and historic city of Siracusa.
Tensions begin soon after their arrival. Lizzie and Taylor are not fast friends, having different personalities that don’t seem to gel. Not surprisingly, Lizzie can’t believe Finn is happy with Taylor and Taylor can’t embrace the fact that her husband was previously Lizzie’s lover. She also feels Lizzie’s husband got the short end of the stick in his marriage. Add in Taylor’s relationship with her daughter which is overprotective and smothering and may account for Snow’s apparent shyness(or is it slyness?). Soon, each relationship becomes more and more strained.
Told effortlessly through the four adults’ perspectives, each character’s deceit, manipulations, lies, quirks and downright devious personality characteristics get fully exposed. The lush surroundings and Italian sun can’t stop what starts as a vacation from becoming an exercise in perseverance as the trip begins to unravel. When you reach the unexpected ending it will certainly give you quite a jolt!