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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Second Date: Love-Italian American Style by Mary Lydon Simonsen

The Second Date: Love - Italian American Style
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 1442157216
Pages: 180 pgs
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher's Description:

Sonia Amundsen looks like a Nordic goddess on the outside, but her heart, soul, and stomach are all Italian. She is also a successful professional who is about to celebrate her 30th birthday. Although friends have been setting her up on blind dates for two years, she never goes out on a second date with any of them because she is still looking for that perfect guy. The problem is that she has very specific criteria as to who Mr. Right is. Sonia is beginning to think that such a man is not out there until.... Set in the late 1980s, Sonia is surrounded by an extended Italian family, a caring, but over-bearing mother, warring aunts who use family funerals to stage full-blow tragedies, and a close friend, whose main goals in life are to get pregnant and to help Sonia find true love. The Second Date explores friendship and love in the heart of the Italian-American community where food is second importance only to love.

My Review:

Let me first start by saying that I am an Italian American from Southern Italy with a family very similar to the family depicted in this book. I too like Sonia have light green eyes (but with dark hair), parents who want me to marry someone from our region (Puglia) and even more specifically (Bari), want to marry an Italian man with a good job and sanity and have a strong affinity for the culture that I grew up in. All of the similarities to my life and my situation gave me real unrealistic and somewhat hard to please expectations about this book that I was nervous could not be met.

I have never really read a book where the image of an Italian American was positive. From my childhood I have been bombarded with images of the stereotypes of Italian culture. Mafia bosses, goons, murderers, whacking. Not at all what I have grown up with as an Italian American but whenever someone hears my last name for the first time, they will almost 98% of the time ask if I have any family in the mob. It's insulting and degrading and sadly that is what my culture is only really known by the bad elements. Second Date was completely different. Not only were the people familiar but the behavior, the language, the dialect was all a page from my life. I found myself laughing out loud in many places because it was so familiar. It would be lovely to see a book like this sitting next to Mario Puzo's novels as representations of Italian American culture. Or better yet replacing it altogether.

The romance was also good. Nick and Sonia were so cute together. But it was the portrayal of Italian American culture was the shining star in this book for me at least. There was one instance at the end of this novel where Sonia becomes concerned that Nick might be killed by the mob. This was the only part of the novel that really rubbed me the wrong way. It was going so well and then all of a sudden there is the stereotype. Why did it have to be included? Couldn't it have been something else? Small gripe really but still.

I was really pleased with this novel. It was the only book that I have ever read that portrayed Italian Americans in a positive light. I really hope a publisher is smart enough to pick this up.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. Why haven't I heard of this book before now? It sounds wonderful and is going on my TBR list. Thanks for reviewing it - loved your take on it. PS I'm American/Irish with dark hair and green eyes : )

  2. Hi Mary, The reason you haven't heard about The Second Date is mostly because it's self-published and finding ways to let readers know it's out there is difficult. Fortunately, blogs like this one agree to review self-published novels or we'd really be out of luck. I've written another novel which will be out in Dec., but as much as I enjoyed writing Searching for Pemberley, The Second Date is closest to my heart b/c I grew up in No. Jersey w/lots of Italians. I'm also Irish-American, and I would go to visit my Italian friends b/c they always ate better than I did. I hope you'll tell your friends about the book. Thanks for commenting. Mary

  3. Thanks, Mary. I will : ) I wish you the best!

  4. [...] F. Darcy-Sara Angelini 64. Playing House-Fredrica Wagman 65. Pendragon’s Banner-Helen Hollick 66. The Second Date: Love-Italian American Style-Mary Lydon Simonsen 67. Angel Lane-Sheila Roberts 68. The Wildest Heart-Rosemary Rogers 69. I Sold [...]



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