TCL’s #DNF Friday #12 – The Con with No Pros.

Why I can’t write a Book Review for “The Patron Saint of Second Chances” by Christine Simon.

Summary: Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem. He needs 70,000 euros to fix the village pipes, or the water commission will shut off the water, and residents will disperse. To boost tourist revenue, Speranza spreads a rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will come for his next project nearby. Unfortunately, the plan works too well. Everyone wants in on the fictional film—the butcher wants roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s daughter is unexpectedly interested in stage makeup, and his assistant offers up a screenplay.

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary; Italy – Prometto (fictional); Other Categories: Novel, Humor.

Patron Saint of Second ChancesThe concept of this book was interesting, with the trope being that a con gets out of control due to the person trying to pull the con off being both an amateur, and being desperate. While the reason for the con isn’t all that selfish, it did seem a bit far fetched. However, I don’t know the laws in Italy so I wouldn’t know if the Italian authorities really would displace all 212 of the residents of a village because they couldn’t pay to get their water pipes up to code. Sounds strange to me, but who am I to say it couldn’t happen.

Now, this book is advertised as being humorous, and while I did laugh at one or two things, overall it wasn’t really all that funny. In fact, I thought it pretty sad. Here’s this village that is already losing its residents as the younger generation leaves to bigger towns and cities where there’s excitement, other young people, and possibly good jobs. It made me think of some truly idyllic spot, overlooking the sea, with a smattering of quaint homes and small family businesses. Picturesque, of the sort I’ve visited, stayed in, or just passed through many times on my own trips to Italy and travels through the Italian hills. The idea of them being so badly in debt that their very existence is in jeopardy, just broke my heart. That’s why I found almost nothing comical about this, at all.

Still, I can see where one might be able to find the humor in any situation, but instead of going for the subtle jabs, Simon seems to have gone down the slapstick, heavy-handed, caricatures road instead. For example, the mark for the con is the crass, fat, wealthy owner of the village’s butcher shop. Simon paints him as if he’s a mafia mob boss, with his 15 (yes 15!) strapping sons, a gaudily decorated mansion (complete with fake torches to light the red-painted hallways), a mousy mite of a wife, and a pack of fierce dogs. A bit over the top, if you ask me.

So, although I think Simon’s writing was good, I also felt like she was trying way too hard to be funny, and that made it fall flat for me, I’m afraid. I was hoping for a book that would make me smile from the start, and laugh out loud along the way, but neither happened for me. Sorry, but after reading 30% of the book, I decided it wasn’t for me.


30483411-0-Edelweiss-Reviewer-BMy apologies to Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), for my inability to finish reading this novel, but thanks anyway for the ARC via Edelweiss. If I haven’t convinced you not to read this book, you can still purchase it through the publisher’s link, above.

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