Book Review: CharactersFind Comfortin ‘The Little Italian Hotel’

By Wendy Thomas

Forty-nine-year-old Ginny Splinter, known as “Advice Angel,” is polished and poised in her life as well as her fashion.

Wendy Thomas

Her fairytale life and marriage have been the subject of a spread in a glossy magazine, and her inimitable style and gorgeous husband make the listeners of her radio show, “Just Ask Ginny,” take heed. She graces listeners in Greenham, England, with her expert advice to help them overcome their life challenges, relationship and otherwise.

Life is perfect. Or so Ginny thinks at the opening of “The Little Italian Hotel” by Phaedra Patrick. The unraveling soon begins, however , when a radio caller asks Ginny how well she really knows her husband and questions whether Ginny’s life is really as perfect as it seems.

With the call still on her mind, Ginny heads home to make Adrian, her successful and dashing car salesman husband, an Italian feast and surprise him with a luxurious, three-week Italian vacation for their 25th anniversary.

Instead, he surprises her by asking for a divorce and moving out. Shocked and heartbroken, Ginny impulsively decides to downgrade her trip and take four brokenhearted listeners on the Italian vacation with her.

Once they arrive at the charming but somewhat rundown Hotel Splendido in the fictional Vigornuovo, Italy, Ginny and her fellow travelers share their stories and help each other come to terms with their losses while exploring the sites and soaking up the stunning landscape.

Ginny, along with a yoga-loving schoolteacher, a quiet carpenter, an irritable octogenarian and a suspicious property developer, make up the ensemble cast whose differences dim in the face of their shared experiences of loss.

The charming and good-looking hotel owner, Nico, adds another layer to the story with his culinary prowess, grief over his broken marriage and competition with his lifelong friend who owns the wildly successful hotel up the hill.

Themes of romance and self-discovery overshadow the elements of aging, grief and loss, making this more of a comfort read than a deep emotional exploration. Readers looking for a quiet summer read can escape to the beautiful Italian countryside where problems are easily overcome and heartaches are miraculously healed in “The Little Italian Hotel.” Check it out now at Denver Public Library.

Summer is in full swing at the library! Visit the Denver Public Library branch near your or go to to see what’s happening. Join us at the Smiley Branch Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 5 for the annual Denver Days Community Gathering. Enjoy free ice cream and family activities, and bring your extra garden produce to swap with neighbors!

Wendy Thomas is a librarian at the Smiley Branch Library. When not reading or recommending books, you can find her hiking with her dogs.


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