“Italian With a Side of Pasta” by Suzanne D. Williams is not your typical love story, either in format or ending. It is one day in the life of a married couple. The husband has an hour to himself in his home, with his wife and children off running errands. Instead of taking a nap, he flips open a photo album and spends the hour going down memory lane; how they met, how they fell in love, their wedding and their life together.
The chapters alternate between now and then. First he sees a picture and remembers that moment in his life. Then, after a chapter break, the story goes back into the past, and the entire scene is acted out as it happened back then. Once the reader catches the rhythm of now, then, now, then the story turns into an enjoyable read.
It should be read after “Flight Risk” because the characters from that book reappear. Giovanni is the husband’s cousin. One purpose seems to be to introduce the entire family so that the author can continue telling stories about these warm-hearted people.
My only disappointment was that the author didn’t let the Italians be Catholic. At a tragic moment in their life, they recite a Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd. That’s a Protestant behavior. A Catholic, especially an Italian one, would make the sign of the cross instead. The sign of the cross is an unspoken prayer that means “what I think, what I feel, and everything I do, in your name.”
There are things that Catholics do that other people don’t always understand. Some people think that the sign of the cross is a superstitious practice like tossing salt over one’s shoulder. The author could have used the scene to explain something that is often misunderstood, in a very gentle, non-threatening way.
Personally, I love Italians. Whenever I take a liking to someone immediately, sooner or later I’ll find out that either they are Italian, or else they are from Texas. They have an attitude that other people don’t have. And while this was a heart-warming, pleasant story, I would have liked it better if they had been everything that Italians are, including being Catholic.