Author: Carla Caruso
Publication Date: September 2018
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
The Right Place has been sitting on my desk calling me all month, the cover is eye catching and inviting but I kept getting distracted by other books for one reason or another. I had actually wanted to try and read in time to review for the book launch here in Adelaide, but again it was left languishing in the pile.
My determination paid off and I picked this up right at the end of the month in between a toddler with a lost dummy and sorting the September lists. It was definitely a welcome escape from my daily grind.
The Right Place is set largely in Adelaide and it’s a tale of food, family and finding your place. It is a dual timeline narrative focussing on a migrant family when they moved to Australia and the third generation in the present day. I love that it is set here in Adelaide so there are places I am semi-familiar with but being down on Marion Road they aren’t places I know well, having lived only in the Hills since I moved here.
Nella Martini has spent almost a decade living in Melbourne following fashion dreams but when she inherits Torrente Blu from her nonna she returns to Adelaide to regroup. Torrente Blu is the market garden her grandparents made a living from since moving to Australia from Italy, it’s where Nella’s mother was raised and Nella herself spent many happy childhood times there. Now, it’s the last place she wants to be; it’s bereft without the warming presence of her nonna.
Regardless of what Nella does with her inheritance she needs to spend some time there to sort all her nonna’s thing and clean the place up. What better time than now, with her Melbourne life in tatters and no clear way to the next step on the path to fulfilling her dreams.
Torrente Blu is still a working market garden, times have changed a lot since the place was purchased and the garden is now leased to the neighbours. It is one of few remaining in the area and would probably be vey attractive to a developer, but if Nella were to sell she would want to ensure the lease survived the sale and that’s a little easier said than done.
The market garden next door to Torrente Blu was bought by the Tomaso family back before Nella was born so she grew up with the twin boys who lived there, they were almost the same age and loved spending time together when Nella was at her nonna’s. A lot has changed since those carefree childhood days, for all of them, and Nella isn’t so sure of her welcome from Adrian Tomaso these days.
Caruso has sensitively explored the sense of belonging so many of us crave but don’t always find, or end up finding in the unlikeliest of places.
Nella’s grandmother Esta migrated to Australia with her husband and young daughter to start fresh. She knew very little of the language and was very much feeling lost and isolated. They didn’t move to an area well populated with other Italian migrants so Esta felt the cultural divide deeply. She made the most of her new life but always missed her hometown. Life in a new country far from everyone and everything she knew was not without it’s hurdles and heartbreaks but with her husband and daughter beside her she could weather anything.
Nella has big fashion dreams and that’s all she ever remembers wanting so her time at Torrente Blu is to help her decide what comes next to get back to those dreams.
In the meantime Nella now has to look after herself, there isn’t the same glut of takeout places you can find in Melbourne; there are only so many times you can duck across the road for Subway before it gets old. A flick through nonna’s old handwritten cookbook is enough to stir a speck of inspiration into something more. Something that starts her looking at her life from a new perspective.
The Right Place is a tale of building new lives, a tale of family, a tale of making the most of what you have before it’s too late and it is a glorious tale of food. The book is scattered with recipes shared from Esta’s cook book, and discovered in Nella’s burgeoning affair with the kitchen. Nella has always loved to eat but cooking is a new addition to her repertoire. Recently on the site we shared one of the recipes included in The Right Place for Zeppole, which I have to admit sounds delicious.
I loved The Right Place, I loved the characters and I loved the way it all played out. I did find the storyline pretty predictable but that didn’t stop me enjoying the way we got there. A beautiful read about finding your place in the world, even if it takes decades.
Thanks to HQ Fiction 16 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Right Place. Please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.