Novel Approach: ‘Lizzie & Dante’ promises tears and laughter

“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”— Sarah Dessen

We all know we’re going to die. Death is inevitable. Really the question is whether we’re going to get snuffed out by old age, disease or a rogue hotdog cart. Given that death is one of the few things guaranteed in this life, when we know we’re on a ticking clock: how does that change how we live? Our latest read transports us to Italy and poses questions about how we should love when the grim reaper is breathing down our necks.

Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly

Lizzie is dying, and she knows it. While she’s not exactly ready to abandon this mortal coil, she is at peace with her reality. While vacationing with her childhood best friend Grey and his boyfriend in Elba, Lizzie finds that while she might be at peace with dying, the universe isn’t going to let her go quite yet. While sunning at a local beach she befriends a scruffy dog and a chef named Dante, who swiftly finds his way into Lizzie’s heart — even though love is the last thing she’s looking for.

Lizzie quickly falls for Dante and his bubbly tween daughter, Etta, as she struggles with how she can bring these new people into her life, just as it's about to end.

Yes, Mary Bly’s protagonist is dying in “Lizzie & Dante” and her book certainly does call for a packet of tissues, but her novel is so much more than a story about death. Bly packs plenty of laughs and heartwarming moments into this book as Grey pushes Lizzie to keep fighting for life, while Dante envelopes her in a passionate romance and Etta provides her with the chance to experience motherhood. “Lizzie & Dante” examines not just loss and grief, but love and found family and even critical commentaries on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Bly’s novel is irresistibly captivating, between the lush descriptions of Elba and the local fare and the vibrantly depicted characters readers will quickly find themselves swept away by this escapist tale. Tackling sizzling romance and heartbreak, “Lizzie & Dante” is euphoric, winsome tale that poses philosophical questions about love and death that is sure to stick with readers long after the final page.

From the book jacket…

What if falling in love means breaking someone’s heart?

On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespeare scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast, with her best friend and his movie-star boyfriend. Once settled into a luxurious seaside resort, Lizzie has to make big decisions about her future, and she needs the one thing she may be running out of: time.

She leaves the yacht owners and celebrities behind and sneaks off to the public beach, where she meets a sardonic chef named Dante, his battered dog, Lily, and his wry daughter, Etta, a twelve-year-old desperate for a mother. While Dante shows Lizzie the island’s secrets, and Etta dazzles with her irreverent humor, Lizzie is confronted with a dilemma. Is it right to fall in love if time is short? Is it better to find a mother briefly, or to have no mother at all? And most pressingly, are the delicacies of life worth tasting, even if you will get to savor them only for a short while?

If you enjoy…

For readers looking for more captivating love stories, “In Five Years” by Rebecca Serle tells the story of a woman whose brief glimpse into the future shakes up her present existence. For those looking to burn through a box of tissues Jojo Moyes pens a rollercoaster of emotions in her “Me Before You” trilogy.