Only You by Kate Eberlen has just been published with Mantle Books (Pan Macmillam imprint). Described as ‘the unmissable feel-good love story of the summer’, Only You is a book that was unexpectedly much more intense than I had anticipated. Set primarily in Rome it is a wonderful journey through the streets and history of this beautiful city. I closed my eyes and virtually inhaled the scents and soaked up the sounds of a city that I have visited twice and plan to return to some day.
Only You is the story of Letty and Alf, two young people who travel to Rome to escape their own lives back in the UK. Both have a past, a history that they are struggling with. Neither are sure of their way and are looking for answers. A chance meet-up in an Italian language class sets both Letty and Alf on a very serendipitous journey, one filled with heart-wrenching truths and a passionate romance.
Alf is a ballroom dancer, a champion dancer. He has danced and competed all his life, with both his mother and grandmother very involved in the business running a dance school at home in Blackpool. A life-changing decision during his final year in school results in Alf moving to Rome working in various positions to pay his way. Alf is a lovable charmer with the looks and the personality that appeals to most folk but he knows his Italian speaking skills are not good enough to sustain him so he makes the decision to join an Italian language school.
Letty is a troubled young woman running away from many traumatic events in her life. Letty had always dreamed of being a ballerina but her path changed. Now she is looking to hide, to forget her life and live in the shadows for a bit while she figures out how best to move on in her life. Letty is from an affluent family but her safety-net has crumbled and Letty is struggling to stay afloat. A month in Rome away from the chaos is escape for Letty, but with little spoken Italian, she makes a decision to take classes.
When Alf crosses paths with Letty the attraction is immediate. There is something about her. She is an almost ethereal presence in a room but Alf is wary around her, tentatively testing the waters daily. They do find a routine of meeting up after class, where Alf takes Letty on trips around the city. Alf works as a tour guide so he has a different approach on these trips and with Letty, a classics scholar, their adventures become more. A spontaneous dance around the stunning Piazza Navona triggers a spark, an electricity between the two and something changes.
Alf and Letty are both struggling with life for various reasons with Kate Eberlen raising many societal issues of mental health, abuse, consent and power. I was, however, a little taken back in relation to one particular plot-line, as I was hoping for a more appropriate outcome. But, putting that to one side, I really enjoyed the escapism of Only You.
Alf and Letty have a passionate, yet also very tender connection. but something so delicate will always struggle when faced with adversity. Letty returns to London and Alf to Blackpool but the memory of Rome lives on. Will they find each other again? Can their past be left in the past?
Only You is a novel that explores the frailty and fragility of love in all it’s colours. Letty and Alf are hurting, are confused but when together they find a sense of belonging and a clearer understanding of who they really are. The descriptions throughout are very vivid, providing the reader with the opportunity to imagine that they are walking down the Via Veneto, sipping Prosecco near the Pantheon, throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain or walking in the footsteps of Julius Caesar in the Forum. You see it all through the eyes of young love and it really is gorgeous to witness.
Only You is a sumptuous exploration of The Eternal City and a heart-aching tale of a passion, of true love. It is the story of two young people trying to find their way, trying to find themselves in a world that can ofttimes be extremely challenging and difficult.
(c) Swirl and Thread
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