Lena Wallace has always wanted to go to Italy. When her husband announces that he has accepted a professor position there, Lena is ready to start packing. But then Alex breaks the news that he’ll be going alone—leaving Lena and their two children behind. What starts as one semester soon turns into two. On the night Alex is due home, Lena makes a startling discovery that will change her family forever.
Angered and hurt by her husband’s betrayal, Lena, her two children, and their dog head overseas to confront Alex. Lena is determined to win her husband back, but Alex’s insistent lover, Alexandria, keeps getting in the way. Soon Lena makes friends with Alexandria’s boyfriend, Marco, and the two scheme to tear Alex and Alexandria apart. But the longer that Lena remains in Italy, the more it begins to change her. Opening herself to new experiences and the reawakening of an artistic passion she had thought she’d closed herself to, Lena must re-examine her marriage and determine if she truly had everything she had ever wanted, or if there is something—or someone—else out there for her.
Three Months in Florence by Mary Carter initially caught my attention because I was hoping it would be similar to the film version of Under the Tuscan Sun (which is nothing like the travel memoir of the same name). I love reading novels about women who discover their own strength after a life-changing situation, such as adultery. Lena and Alex’s marriage wasn’t perfect by any means, and I think many readers may be able to relate to their relationship. They often seemed too busy to make time just for the two of them, and conversations likely revolved around their children and household woes. Alex made a selfish decision to go to Italy without her, knowing full well that Lena had given up her Italian honeymoon when they started a family. From that moment, I was hoping that Lena would soon forget Alex, enjoy Italy for all it had to offer, and become the best version of herself.
Lena throughout most of Three Months in Florence is very hard to tolerate. She is out for someone’s blood the moment she plants her feet in Italian soil. Instead of working on what’s going on inside, she focuses on the outside: she changes both her wardrobe and her hairstyle. She doesn’t hesitate to tell anyone who will listen that her husband has cheated on her with his Italian mistress to gain the sympathy of those around her. Lena handles the betrayal in an ugly manner, yet it also felt realistic to me. Every individual deals with grief differently; I can’t say I wouldn’t react the same as Lena, because I have no idea how I would respond to this sort of news.
My favorite Lena moments were any time she was in Marco’s company. He inspired spontaneity, creativity, and passion—something Lena was severely lacking with Alex, who only seemed to stifle her. Three Months in Florence was anything but predictable for me. My jaw nearly dropped when I thought the plot was going somewhere I didn’t want it to go. Even though I didn’t always like Lena, I was invested in her story and wanted a healthy outcome for her. Despite a few inconsistencies in the editing (missing quotation marks, misspelled brand names, etc.), Three Months in Florence was an absorbing read. I’m sure I’ll be seeking out other books by Mary Carter; I hope they are just as entertaining and heartfelt.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Mary Carter. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.