Dreaming of Italy, eager to learn the language, a disparate group of Dubliners comes together for an introductory Italian course held in a drab classroom every Tuesday and Thursday evening. The teacher, Aidan Dunne, has hit an all-time low in both his career and family life, and so his self-image is hinging on the success of this class.
The students are a varied cast of characters: there's Signora, so smitten with love that she followed the man she adored to a distant country, waiting twenty-three years for him; Laddy, the hotel porter; and Hilary, the society hostess, who has an oddly empty calendar.
Each student has a private reason for wanting to learn Italian. Bill Burke, a young bank clerk, wants to be considered for an international banking job, but is secretly hoping that now his spendthrift girlfriend Lizzie will have fewer opportunities to waste their money if she's busy attending an evening class. Then there's Suzy Sullivan, who can't figure out why her husband Lou wants to pick up Italian because he hasn't learned anything since he mastered reading and writing; there must be some catch, she figures. Kathy Clarke works much too hard and so she decides to join the class in an attempt to relax, but through the people she meets she learns a secret about her own family that transforms both her future and her past.
As the classes progress, we learn about each of the participants, watching their relationships grow throughout the year and culminating in a magical viaggio to Italy. This evocative tale shimmers with the story-telling artistry that makes Maeve Binchy an international bestseller.
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Good storytelling . . . Binchy deftly focuses on each character in turn, probing the hidden dramas of their lives."
"Reading one of Maeve Binchy's novels is like coming home."
--The Washington Post
A Main Selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club
From the Paperback edition.