By Delia Ephron
Siracusa follows two couples, Michael and Lizzie, and Finn and Taylor, along with their daughter Snow, on vacation to Siracusa, Italy.
The alternating chapters told from the four adult perspectives is a neat conceit and, at first, it IS interesting to get different perspectives on the same events, but it quickly gets old and slows the book down.
The characters aren’t pleasant. Michael is wishy-washy about getting out of his marriage. He’s having an affair with a woman named Kathy who he claims fervently to be in love with. There’s no kids, so what’s stopping him from ending the marriage? Just himself.
Lizzie is almost intentionally oblivious. “I always thought, and joked to my best friend Rachel, that if he ever walked through a door first, it would mean he was through with me. In Rome, lo and behold, he did it.” You think she gets it, finally. But in the next line she excuses it, “That’s how jet-lagged he was.”
Taylor is a helicopter parent who seems rather vain and pretentious. “Whenever we go on a trip, Finn, Snow, and I stay in the same room. Snow and I sleep in the double bed. Finn takes the cot because he stays out late. That way no one gets disturbed. Because of running a restaurant, Finn is an owl. Sex in this culture, its importance, is overrated, and that is the last I’m going to say on the subject.”
Finn, well, he seems like the most happy-go-lucky but he’s also pulling some puppet strings. ‘On the buildup to this fiasco, Lizzie and I were texting ten times a day. I started hounding her at Christmas. “Italy in June. Remind tay, remind Tay, grazie prego.” Badgered Lizzie’s brains out. Taylor had no idea I was feeding Lizzie, making it happen, getting a bit of control. What’s that called? Passive aggressive. I was having a passive-aggressive field day pulling Lizzie’s strings so she’d pull Taylor’s and getting off on it.’
And it’s true, Taylor blames Lizzie for it all. It isn’t until towards the end, she starts to blame Finn as well. “From the start it was a conspiracy between Lizzie and Finn to be together. Michael and I were in the dark.”
Lizzie and Finn knew each other from a little romance years before and had remained friends.
Snow is annoying – melodramatic and pretentious. She steals some silverware, plays with dressing more provocatively and pretends to faint, putting herself into the drama of the Carravagio painting, but that just doesn’t lead up to what happens. I didn’t feel like the author built the tension sufficiently.
There are some interesting observations but I was paging through the last 30% just to get it over with. A neat idea that just didn’t work for me in the end.