Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles, by Fabio Bartolomei. Published 2012 by Europa Editions. Literary Fiction. Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar.
Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles is as about as delightful a novel about serious issues as you are likely to find. Four middle aged guys- a grocery store operator, a car salesman, and a TV pitchman- meet when they independently pick the same day to view a property in the Italian countryside ideal for transforming into a bed and breakfast. Individually it's out of their price range but together they can swing it. They open their dream B&B, and then they take on the mob.
The fun begins when an elderly representative from the local organized crime ring comes calling regarding the mens' new business. What happens next, and next, is not what I expected. I don't even want to tell you too much about the basic premise because I enjoyed watching it unfold and wouldn't want to ruin that for you. What I will say is that as the men build their dream, they get to know each other and assemble a band of friends and helpers including Elisa the cook and an African immigrant named Abu, whose help proves essential as events swirl around them and their new "family." The guys get up to some pretty crazy stuff, and they almost get away with it.
Almost but not quite also describes the fate of the bed and breakfast. At the end of they day they do all succeed in changing their lives, but not the way they think they will. The book is part black comedy, part social commentary, and completely enjoyable. I definitely recommend this one for the beach bag.
This is my 13th book for the 2015 Europa Challenge. You can participate at EuropaChallenge.blogspot.com.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Europa Editions for review.