In the summer of 2019, author Rebecca Serle and her mother went on a trip to Italy, visiting Rome and the idyllic town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. It was a glorious vacation, made more special for the fact that Serle’s mother had spent an incredible summer there when she was 20. She had fallen in love with a man named Remo in Rome; they had met at the Trevi fountain.
In 2019, mother and daughter were able to find Remo on Facebook — and they had a happy reunion (where else?) at the Trevi fountain. (“My mother is very happily married to my father, I just want to make that clear!” Serle says with a laugh.)
But the trip was life-changing.
“I got to see my mom in this different light,” says Serle, bestselling author of “The Dinner List” and “In Five Years.” “And it made me think about what it would be like to meet the women we don’t know in our mothers.”
It would serve as the inspiration for her new book, “One Italian Summer,” (Atria Books), a slim novel that’s both a love letter to mother-daughter relationships — and to the hillside town of Positano, Italy, which might as well be its own character in the book.
Protagonist Katy is left reeling when her mother Carol dies; nothing makes sense anymore, least of all her marriage from her. Seeking clarity, she makes a last-minute decision to embark on the Italian trip she and Carol had planned—only, she’ll be traveling alone. At the charming Hotel Poseidon (a real place), Katy starts to come back to life with the aid of the Italian sun, the food, and the incredible sights. She meets a handsome man who’s also staying at the hotel — but she also makes a curious friendship: With the 30-year-old version of her own mother.
“My mother is the great love of my life. We’re super close and I write to probe the edges of what I’m afraid of,” says Serle. “Losing her is my biggest fear of her. So this book is a bit of a love letter to my future self — the one that will have to walk this earth without her.”
And the stunning setting — complete with real-life locations that any traveler to Positano will recognize and relish — is a delightful treat for the reader.
“I know international travel is slow to return for some of us,” she says. “And I hope that this book can serve as a bit of a vacation for people, a getaway.”