In Italy, the best attractions are always off the beaten path . . .
Mamie Weber doesn’t know why she survived that terrible car accident five years ago. Physically, she has only a slight reminder—but emotionally, the pain is still fresh. Deep down she knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life again. Now she has an opportunity to do just that, spending two weeks in Tuscany reviewing a tour company for her employer’s popular travel guide series. The warmth of the sun, the centuries-old art, a villa on the Umbrian border—it could be just the adventure she needs.
But with adventure comes the unexpected . . . like discovering that her entire tour group is made up of aging
ex-hippies reminiscing about their Woodstock days. Or finding herself drawn to the guide, Julian, who is secretly haunted by a tragedy of his own, and seems to disapprove any time she tries something remotely risky—like an impromptu scooter ride with a local man.
As they explore the hilltop towns of Tuscany, Mamie knows that when this blissful excursion is over, she’ll have to return to reality. But when you let yourself wander, life can take some interesting detours . . .
“A great plot, and it’s very well written. It comes with a strong recommendation and is worth picking up for a nice treat.” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
Praise for Sharon Struth
“Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.”
“Struth is an author to watch!”
--Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winner The Sweet Spot
“Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss. She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.” --Eye on Romance
“The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page.”
Average Customer Review
Based on 3 reviews
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A cross between Under the Tuscan Sun and My Life in Ruins
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Blog: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Though I've only seen the films, I liken this read to a cross between Under the Tuscan Sun and My Life in Ruins. Mamie is reaching for an uncertain future, while Julian is hiding from his past. Both seem stuck in place due to the pain they are holding so tightly too, but sometimes misery loves company...and in that same vein, company can turn into something more, which can break the shackles of what-once-was-and-can-never-be once and for all.
It was great getting to know Mamie under the guise she originally presented, but more so as the story unfolds. Hey, a secret identity can be hard to keep (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything), so when the cracks started showing, I couldn't help but feel for her. She's walked a hard road these last five years and deserved the chance to find her way again. I was worried she wouldn't get that chance with Julian being so stubborn, but those crazy free-loving-music-loving Wanderers were just the right amount of free spirit to kick things into gear. As we travel with this wildish and wizened group, we get a history of some of Italy's greatest known landmarks as well as a peek at those places one can only discover by walking off the beaten path...sorta like the way we find OUR true selves and, in the case of our leads, the power of forgiveness.
In the end, the potential love affair was a part of the story, but not the whole shebang. I actually fancied the other aspects of the tale even more...like taking chances, living for today, sharing our true self with others, and the power of letting go. Though Mamie and Julian both dwelled a bit much on their own circumstances for my own tastes, they got it together in the end and really, what more can you ask of two characters blown off their charted courses by the winds of fate?
a gentle, sensitively told story of two grieving people who find an unexpected connection in a beautiful place
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Trish (Goodreads reviewer)
The Sweet Life tells the story of Mamie Weber. She is a young widow (39 years old) who lost her husband and daughter in a tragic car accident. She has an unexpected opportunity to go to Italy for work as a travel writer. There she joins a tour of older people who were at Woodstock together, and meets a charming man with a mysterious past named Julian.
This is a really lovely read. It is a gentle, sensitively told story of two grieving people who find an unexpected connection in a beautiful place.
The descriptions of Italy are beautiful! I have never been there, and am more of an armchair traveler, but I loved reading the details of the tour group's travels, the fabulous food, and the adventures they had. I especially enjoyed the way that Julian took Mamie to see some of the sites on little mini-tours, just the two of them. The scene where they visited Michelangelo's David was magical!
I really liked Mamie and Julian as characters. They were written with depth and dimension, and their connection was so beautifully handled. I kept thinking this novel would make a great movie. It has a cinematic quality that I liked.
I heartily recommend The Sweet Life for fans of women's fiction, well written romance, and novels with atmospheric settings
A Beautiful Story
(Saturday, April 7, 2018)
Reviewer: Andrea Guy (Goodreads Reviewer)
This was a sweet book. Mamie is joining a group of people that went to Woodstock on a trip to Tuscany. She lost her husband and daughter 5 years previously and has pretty much given up on living.
This trip is giving her a chance to start living again. On the trip she meets handsome tour director, Julian who has his own issues.
This is wonderful story of second chances at life and at love with some secrets tossed in for good measure.
Both Mamie and Julian have had some pretty horrific things happen to them in their recent past, and for Julian even back to his youth.
They both need to start living again in different ways and they need to come to terms with the past. For Mamie, it is embracing new challenging things, that are sometimes a bit dangerous. Julian is the exact opposite. He's had enough danger. He wants to put his past behind him
Mamie is taking the trip to Tuscany in place of her uncle. Therein starts the drama, as the tour group wasn't informed of the switch.
This is where Julian starts his change too. By allowing Mamie on the tour, he is starting to take risks again, just as Mamie is by simply being there. It also begins a rather unlikely and sweet romance.
Sharon doesn't make the romance the be all and end all of the story, though it is definitely an important part of what's happening between the two characters. Its the backdrop of Italy and group of aging hippies that all went to Woodstock that are taking the tour that really bring this story to life.
There is one scene where the tour bus stops for the group to take photos of a field of sunflowers. It is something that you can visualize perfectly and when you do, you desperately want to be there.
Sharon makes both Mamie and Julian characters that need something the other has to offer and when they start to come together you see that they really complete each other and you know they have to find a way to be together.
This is a simply beautiful story.