Synopsis from Simon & Schuster:
The self-appointed mayor of a tiny Italian village is determined to save his hometown no matter the cost in this charming, hilarious, and heartwarming debut novel.
Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.
Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.
As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?
A “hilariously funny and beautifully written” (Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Better Luck Next Time) novel about the power of community, The Patron Saint of Second Chances is perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and Maria Semple.
About: The Patron Saint of Second Chances is a literary fiction written by Christine Simon. It was recently published on 4/12/2022 by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, paperback, 304 pages. The genres are literary fiction, contemporary, and Italy. This book is the author’s debut. According to the publisher’s website, “founded in 2002, Atria was from the start intended to be an environment where new ideas could flourish, the best writers of fiction and nonfiction could thrive and connect with an ever-widening readership, and the best practices of traditional publishing could be integrated with cutting-edge developments in the digital world. In short, a place where great books could come to light.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading The Patron Saint of Second Chances on 4/9/2022 and finished it on 4/20/2022. An interesting read, this book provided a good small town feel. The church, vacuum repair business and a butcher’s shop were all across the street from one another. It’s hard to avoid each other but that didn’t stop Signor Speranza from trying. The population count has its own cute story. Signor Speranza was definitely old school. He didn’t care for cell phones and had no patience to young people who were constantly on it. I enjoyed the humor between Signor Speranza and his assistant Smilzo. The old lady at the audition was funny as well as the dentist. I laughed hard at Signor Speranza’s attempt at the fart machine on Ernesto but got backfired. There were a lot of Italian expressions and endearments directed at the granddaughter, Carlotta. I would love to know the English definitions for those words but I don’t notice there’s any. I just loved the cover of this book! I also loved the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.
This book started with Signor Giovannino (Nino) Speranza, 62, self-appointed mayor and vacuum repairman in the village of Prometto, all of 212 citizens. He’s eating his breakfast while an inspector inspected the pipes at his 10-room hotel he inherited from his wife’s parents. The bathroom he chosen was in a room he hadn’t rented out in 2 years. Now he’s hesitant if he had made a mistake. He thought he recalled a leak happened once and tried to ask the inspector to move into another room but the inspector declined because he’s far into the process. After the inspector cut a portion of the pipes he saw there were bubble gum wedged in there. He gave Signor Speranza a bill of 70 thousand Euros to pay in 60 days otherwise the water will be cut off and the village will be closed out and everyone will be forced to leave their homes. Signor Speranza and his wife Betta had one daughter named Gemma, 24 who in turn had a 4 year old daughter named Carlotta. Gemma’s boyfriend left and Gemma’s broken hearted. Signor Speranza wanted to save the town and save his daughter. One event lead to another and an idea came for Signor Speranza to raise the needed money. Except as soon as he’s nearly collected enough money, something came up and he found out portion of the money was already spent. Signor Speranza often consulted with different saints at different situations.
The Patron Saint of Second Chances was well written and developed. Many well liked characters. The read was a bit slow paced in my opinion but enjoyable. I enjoyed following Signor Speranza’s story as well as the feared butcher and his sons. He sounded like a down to earth guy. I liked how he loved his family, cared for his granddaughter, and worried for his daughter’s well being. He also took care of dogs even though he didn’t want to but to make others happy, he was willing to. Troubles always found Signor Speranza but I’m glad he was able to solve it every time. I was surprised that his assistant Smilzo was a Jack of all trades. The ending was good though there were no mention of repaying the money to Signor Maestro. Their situation has changed but still, it’s a lot of money to sweep under the rug. I enjoyed the author’s note, the only note with a recipe that I can recall. It’s cool to learn the truth parts in this fiction book. I recommend everyone to read this book if you love a small town close-knit family feel.
I rate it 4.5 stars!
About the Author:
Christine Simon grew up in a very large and very loud Italian family and now lives with her husband and four children. The Patron Saint of Second Chances is her first novel. (Photo and info obtained from Simon & Schuster’s website).
More Information about Atria Books
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Atria Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.