The Little Italian Hotel is my new favorite book for 2023. I absolutely ADORED this book. The main character Ginny, a radio host and advice expert has just planned a special trip to Italy to celebrate 30 years of marriage when her husband Adrian announces he wants a divorce.
When the trip proves impossible to cancel, Ginny decides to invite four heartbroken listeners to join her on the trip. The cast of characters in the book are all very different from one another, there’s Curtis a property developer, Edna and an 80-year-old widow, Eric a carpenter who likes to keep to himself, Heather the talkative school teacher… and then there’s Nico, and his daughter Loretta who run the Hotel Splendido.
I hope you will enjoy this inside look into the novel with author Phaedra Patrick!
When did you first come up with the storyline for The Little Italian Hotel?
My last few books have featured a solo protagonist and I wanted to write something that featured a group of people, with chapters and stories told from their perspectives. I also wanted to explore heartbreak and how different people deal with it. The novel was originally going to take place on a cruise boat visiting different locations. However, after a discussion with my publisher, we thought that choosing one sunny location would be more appealing. I decided on Italy because I’ve been there several times and love the country.
Tell me about the research process for the book.
It was very nice research to do! I wrote most of the book during the pandemic so, unfortunately, wasn’t able to travel overseas to Italy. Instead, I did lots of online research about the locations, language, and nuances of the country. I also revisited my past holiday photographs, bringing back some nice memories. To be sure that my depiction of the country, its people, and its language was correct, two Italian readers kindly checked over the book for me.
I wanted to experience all the activities carried out by my characters so I even took part in gong therapy, lying on the floor and listening to the vibrations around me. I’m not sure I’d do it again but it did provide good inspiration for the book.
Is the Hotel Splendido based on a real hotel?
The Hotel Splendido exists entirely in my imagination. I can picture it in my head, as if it’s a real place, and know the exact layout of the rooms and the outside space. It’s a gorgeous place to escape to.
Out of the three Italian cities in the book (Bologna, Florence, and Venice) which is your favorite?
I’ve been to Venice several times and it’s breathtaking, especially when you approach the city via the ferry and the skyline comes into view. It’s a truly unique and magical place and I love wandering along all the little streets, discovering the canals, bridges, shops, cafes, art galleries, and architecture. I hope I’ve brought it to life for anyone who reads the book.
What personality traits of Ginny would you say are similar to your own?
I usually give my characters some of my own personality traits. I’d say that I’m an organized person who cares greatly for other people and their happiness. I hope I give good advice (but not as much as Ginny!)
If you could have a conversation with one of the characters from the book, who would it be?
It’s so difficult to pick one. I think I’d go for a walk in the Italian countryside with furniture maker Eric and Biscotti the dog. We’d eat sandwiches on top of a hill together and talk about ideas for his business and his love of animals. I’d be happy carving sticks of wood in the sun with him. It seems like a good way to pass the time.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I had so much fun writing this book. It’s probably my favorite since my debut, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and I love many of the scenes. If I had to choose one, it would be when we first met Nico and Gianfranco, having breakfast together in the courtyard of the Hotel Splendido. The scene introduces us to the sights, sounds, and smells of Bologna. Nico is a noble, traditional man, who loves his hotel and entertaining people but who feels rather lost in the world. His conversation with Gianfranco about the orange bedsheets makes me smile.
The thing that made me laugh the most in the book was the hotel guests completing their heartbreak forms about their activities in Italy. In a previous job, I used to organize events and conferences and had to circulate feedback forms for attendees afterward. I used to receive some very random comments back and I thought it would be fun if the strangers in my book also had to complete feedback about their activities and how it impacts their heartache.
If The Little Italian Hotel was turned into a feature film, which actors would you want to be cast in the main roles?
I see my characters as real people in their own right, so it’s difficult to assign actors to them. When my second novel, Rise and Shine Benedict Stone, was made into a film, Hallmark cast it perfectly so I’d put my faith in a film studio to find the perfect actors. If I could squeeze some of my favorite actors in there, I’d find room for Sam Rockwell, Jeff Bridges, Virginia Madsen, Hugh Laurie, Sam Neill, Brendan Gleeson, and Bryan Cranston.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished The Red House by Roz Watkins. It was a great twisty, turny, atmospheric thriller and I really enjoyed it. I’m currently reading and enjoying Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and am looking forward to Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica, next.
Are you currently working on your next book, and if so can we get a sneak peek?
I’m currently writing my seventh novel, yet to be given a title. My synopsis will change as I write the book, but a little overview is as follows…
When an over-cautious woman from a superstitious family visits a fortune teller six weeks before her wedding, she’s informed that her perfect match isn’t her fiancé but someone she met while traveling, twenty-one years ago. Wanting to put an end to an old family curse that states women in her family are destined to be unlucky in marriage, she decides to travel overseas, to trace and re-visit her exes, before she walks down the aisle again.