When Nicky Pellegrino's Italian father came to England he fell in love with and married a Liverpool girl. He brought to his new family his passion for food and instilled in them what all Italians know - that you live to eat instead of eating to live. This Italian mantra is the inspiration behind Nicky's delicious novels. Every summer the family left their home in Merseyside and returned to her father's home town, near Naples, in southern Italy. When Nicky met and married a New Zealander she moved to Auckland where she works as a journalist and edits a woman's magazine. She hoards her annual leave so that she and her husband can return to Italy to meet up with her family and to eat the best mozzarella and research her books.
Italy, 1964. Maria Domenica is the eldest daughter in the Carrozza family from the tiny southern village of San Giulio. At 16, Maria's life is limited to the confines of her mother's rural kitchen (where she bakes bread every morning, the way the Carrozza women always have), and the Caffe Angeli, a place of friendship, strong espresso and famous ricotta sfolgliatelle. Her parents have high hopes for their beautiful first-born, but she has other plans.Maria runs away to Rome but, a year later, she returns to San Giulio in disgrace - eight months pregnant with the identity of the father a mystery. Hastily, shamefully, she is married off to a neighbour's son. But she soon escapes again, this time to England, where she searches once more for a new life for herself and her daughter, Chiara.Many years later, it is Chiara, not Maria, who finds herself drawn back to San Giulio. But she soon discovers that the simple Italian life she seeks is not as simple as it seems - particularly where the past is concerned.