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Monica Marlowe

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Finding Felicity
by Monica Marlowe   

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Publisher:  Eternal Press ISBN-10:  9781615724475 Type: 


Copyright:  August 2011 ISBN-13:  9781615724482

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Successful businesswoman Madeline O'Connor travels to Italy and finds love at a Benedictine monastery.

Madeline O'Connor was happy.  Or was she?  When she learns that her estranged sister is gravely ill, she leaves behind her life in Manhattan to be at her sister’s side in Italy. There, she discovers an ancient Benedictine monastery that accommodates travelers, and she decides to stay there, among the monks. Everything in her life turns upside down when she falls for Brother Anthony Lamberti, a soft-spoken Italian completely different from the men she knows in New York. Together Madeline and Anthony find love for the first time, and learn that life and love always find a way. Loving Anthony creates a new life for Madeline. A new life she would never have imagined and yet is perfect for her in every way.

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Two weeks prior to its arrival in Manhattan, Brother Anthony Lamberti had held the same letter in one hand while slipping his simple tortoiseshell glasses onto the bridge of his nose with the other. He stood on a terrace overlooking a serene green valley. The twilight sun cast just enough light on the Italian countryside for him to read the neatly handwritten words that Jonathan Brown had spent the entire day composing. The letter almost glowed.
“Please read it aloud for me,” Jonathan respectfully asked the older man.
Anthony’s deep melodic voice began.
“Dear Aunt Maddie,” he paused at the endearing salutation and wondered again about his young protégé’s aunt. He continued, his Italian accent transforming the words into near poetry.

“This letter must come as a surprise. I hope and pray that it will be a welcome one, although I wish it were being written under more favorable circumstances. Oh, Aunt Maddie, how I have missed you over the years. I have wanted to write to you many times but I didn’t know how to begin. There is much to tell you, and I fear that I may reveal too much or too little in this long overdue correspondence. How can I possibly update you on the last seven years? How can I possibly hope that you will be willing to hear what I have to say?
“Where to start? I suppose the best place would be with the most important news. Mom has cancer. Treatment isn’t working, and the doctors are not at all hopeful. Aunt Maddie, Mom is dying. She only has a few months to live. Dad left her, us, shortly after we arrived in Italy. For a young model in Milan. They got divorced and so Mom raised me by herself. I can only tell you how very sorry I am that you and Mom have spent so much time apart. She very much regrets the pain her actions caused you. I hope you can believe that.
“As to what became of me. I’m seventeen now, and a novice at Monastero de St. Valentine. Eventually, I will be a monk. Can you imagine having a monk as a nephew? While my decision to travel this path was an easy one, it has not been easy to explain to those closest to me. Least of all, Dad. But I hope to have the opportunity to explain it to you.
“And now for the real purpose of this letter. In short, Mom needs you. She would never dream of contacting you herself, and asking you to come to Italy, and neither has she asked me to contact you. But I know that seeing you would mean everything to her. I know it is a lot to ask. But I fear I would not be able to live with myself if I had not reached out on Mom’s behalf. And on my own behalf. You are my family and I have missed you. I, too, would love to see you and have my Aunt back in my life.
“Please consider this note an olive branch. And come to Italy.”

Anthony swallowed. He wondered what could have happened to keep sisters apart for so long. What could Madeline have done? But he was too private, too respectful of others’ privacy, to ask.
“Well?” Jonathan looked every bit the vulnerable young man he was.
“It is a good letter. Come. Let’s post it.”
Anthony placed a fatherly hand on Jonathan’s shoulder and guided him inside.

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Reader Reviews for "Finding Felicity"

Reviewed by Robert Cherny 8/27/2012
Plot - Four Stars

Characterizations – Five Stars

Technical Execution – Five Stars

Synopsis: A successful New York business woman is called to Italy by her nephew to be by her estranged sister's side because the sister is dying of cancer. While in Italy, she becomes entangled with a priest, a monk, a novice nun and an old beau from New York.

The synopsis does not do this story justice. It is much more complicated than that, but to reveal more would spoil the story.

Review: I am hardly the target reader for this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is well written and moves smoothly. The jumps from one time period to the other are clear and easy to follow. The characters are well thought out and have more depth than I would have thought typical of this genre. I can recommend this book to anyone who likes a character driven story that addresses the timeless themes relating to finding one's place in life.

I especially like the fact that while the underlying questions have a religious component and deal directly with faith and the role of the church in everyday life, this is not an "inspirational" work like some others I have read where in the end of the story everyone skips happily off to church and lives happily ever after. This story has a much more realistic view of the characters' religions and their connections to them.

The ending is satisfying and ties up all the loose ends. In fact, this is my most serious complaint about the book. Two of the story arcs are tied up too neatly. I do not think they should be tied up at all, much less in the manner they get tied up.

This is an easy read that will have you thinking long after you have finished the book.

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