The Lovers’ Guide to Rome promised to whisk me off my feet and take me on a journey of the Eternal City. And while there were plenty of moments where I felt like I was back in Italy, there were also times where it felt a tad unremarkable. This book is ultimately a light, uneven and pleasant rom-com that would have made a better film.
This book is the second novel from screenwriter, Mark Lamprell (Babe: Pig in the City). Here, Lamprell choses to have the city of Rome play the role as the narrator. It’s a novel idea to weave together three different stories about love- one that’s found, rekindled and farewelled. The Lovers’ Guide to Rome is ultimately an adventure that includes some off-beat interludes like meetings to a gypsy camp, a mugging and a spell down the Spanish Steps on a motorino.
One of the stars of the book is Alice, an arts student who is looking to have one last hurrah before she settles down and marries her safe but boring boyfriend. By contrast, Alec and Meg are a couple who have been married for a long time. Their excitement no longer comes from each other but is instead found while doing home renovations, even if these require a short trip to Rome – or the same place as their honeymoon – in order for them to succeed. Constance and Lizzie meanwhile, are in Rome to spread the ashes of the latter’s brother and the former’s late husband, as per the instructions in his will. The pair are not looking for love but it may find them anyway.
This novel is a vibrant one and the descriptions of the supporting characters can be quite fun. Lamprell has done a good job of painting some rather flawed but authentic-feeling characters for this book. But despite this, there are still some moments where the novel felt a little forced and uneven. The mugging scene seemed completely out-of-step with the rest of the book. The middle-aged couple’s domestic despair was quite mundane and tedious and this is a far cry from the gorgeous tourists attractions that are described here along with some notes about their history (it’s also nice to see that Lamprell has included the famous ones as well as those that are a little off the beaten track).
Mark Lamprell has put together multiple love stories for The Lovers’ Guide to Rome but the linking of these tales could be described as tenuous at best. This romantic tale had some good intentions and it seemed decent enough at times but it was ultimately lacking in the power, mystery and passion of the fine, Eternal City. Some readers may enjoy the fun romp with some added history lessons that this book offers, while others may be left wanting to know and experience a little more of Rome’s true essence, something that may have been lost in the Castel Sant’Angelo.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1607130870?book_show_action=false