Full of mouth-watering flavours, sunshine and escapist adventure, The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop will delight fans of Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop as well as drawing in new readers with a taste for sweet treats and romance.
Anna and her husband Matteo are preparing to embark on a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it’s easy to settle on a new business idea – they’ll open a sorbet shop on the town’s cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo’s overbearing family get involved…
Anna’s younger sister Imogen has settled in Brighton running Vivien’s Ice Cream Shop with boyfriend Finn, and for the first time in her life, she’s enjoying putting down some roots. But then, late in the summer, things start to change and her willpower is put to the test…
When we re-join Anna and Imogen at Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop in Brighton things are going well for the sisters. They have made Vivien’s a huge success all year round, experimenting with different ice creams and creating delicious new flavours. Tourists and locals alike totally love the place. Anna has taken on the main running of the shop, along with her husband Matteo and it’s not long before their family starts to expand and we get to meet their adorable daughter, Bella. However, it soon becomes apparent that Matteo is missing his home country of Italy more than he is letting on and he desperately wants their daughter to grow up in the beautiful Sorrento, just as he did. Anna loves Matteo more than anything in the world and decides that she’s willing to give life in Italy a go and so they embark on their own adventure as they come across the perfect premises to open their own ice cream shop in Sorrento. However, their story doesn’t end there. Matteo’s mother is delighted that her son has returned to Italy and she is determind to be play a part in both their personal and professional lives. It’s just a shame that she doesn’t quite know when to stop interfering…
Meanwhile photographer Imogen is living with her boyfriend Finn in Brighton, and whilst she seems happy enough, she can’t seem to get over her urge to travel and see more of the world. She is in no way ready to settle down, so when things start getting serious with Finn and her work dries up, she decides to take a trip over to Italy to visit her sister. It’s there that Imogen meets a familiar face from the past that looks set to change everything…
I was melting with excitement quicker than a 99’er with strawberry sauce in the midday sun over reading The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop. I adored Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop when I read it a few years ago and I was chuffed to pieces when I found out that Abby had written a sequel! I couldn’t wait to become reaquainted with these wonderful characters. Anna, Imogen, Matteo, the fabulous Evie and OF COURSE Hepburn the Dachshund. I will admit to having ridiculously high expectations for this novel after loving the first one so much, but Abby Clements certainly didn’t let me down.
I love the settings that Abby takes us to in this novel. Experiencing what life is like on the Amalfi Coast is just dreamy and it has made me desperately want to visit and try some of that gelato for myself. If you’re reading this on a sunny day you will have no trouble closing your eyes and taking yourself off to the beautiful Sorrento in your imagination.
It was just as great to re-visit good old Brighton and see how Vivien’s was shaping up. Of course I had no doubt in my mind that Anna and Imogen would make a success of their grandmothers ice cream shop, but it was great to see just how hard they’d worked and how the shop had come on from the previous novel.
The other thing that really appealed to me in this novel were the characters. I had absolutely no trouble picking up where things left off with Anna and Imogen and I think that that is a sign that Abby has created two strong, memorable characters with these two sisters. I immediately recognised Imogen and her free-spirit, and the more rational Anna. I love the bond that these two have – even when they are hundreds of thousands of miles away from each other, it’s still apparent how close they are. Once they get together they are a force capable of achieving anything, whether it’s taking on meddling mother-in-laws or setting up neighbours, they’ve got it covered.
Family is a really strong theme in The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop and it will undoubtedly get you thinking about what you would do if you were in the characters situations. I really felt for poor Anna, and I didn’t envy the decision that both she and Matteo were left facing about which country to bring up their daughter in. Whatever the decision someone was going to be away from their family and that was quite a sobering thought.
I also thought it was wonderful that, whilst sadly Vivien is no longer with us, her and her past actions still impact the story greatly. She is definitely living on through Anna and Imogen and of course, the ice cream shop. I thought that the story was done in such a clever way and connections were made which I had never considered. I love a story that can surprise me like that and also leave me with a big, soppy grin on my face.
Pretty much everything about The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop is perfect, from its gorgeous setting, interesting characters and thought-provoking storyline, right down to that beautiful summery cover. This is a must-read for romance lovers and Abby Clements fans, new and old alike. You can easily read this novel as a standalone if you haven’t yet read Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop, but if you’re greedy like me then you will want to get the maximum enjoyment from the story and I think you can definitely achieve that by reading both books.
The perfect way to spend a summer afternoon…Just don’t forget the ice cream!
A huge thank you to publishers Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy of The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop to read and review.♥
Abby Clements worked in book publishing before she started writing. She lives in north London with her fiancé, and loves lazy Sundays, eighties films and sausage dogs.
She is the author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop (Quercus). Her favourite summertime treat is a waffle cone with a scoop of pistachio and chocolate, with hazelnut sprinkles.