Review: Hotel Portofino by J.P. O’Connell

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Hotel Portofino has been open for only a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its owner Bella Ainsworth. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she’s being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy. 

To make matters worse, her marriage is in trouble, and her children are still struggling to recover from the repercussions of the Great War. 

All eyes are on the arrival of a potential love match for her son Lucian, but events don’t go to plan, which will have far reaching consequences for the whole family. 

Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval and of the liberating influence of Italy’s enchanting culture, climate, and cuisine on British “innocents abroad,” perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and The Crown.



My Thoughts:

Hotel Portofino is a lovely, character-driven story set in 1920’s Italy. The aftermath of the Great War are very much present in both the state of politics, economy and mental health.

The story is about as fast paced as one would expect life in a small Italian village to be. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing is going on! While much of the story is about the characters and their daily life. I really enjoyed the peek into local politics between the two world wars. Bella Ainsworth undoubtedly thinks she is escaping when she convinces her family to move to Italy so that she can open an upscale, boutique hotel catering to English clientele, but she has moved her family into the heart of fascism. The town can come to a grinding halt for your business if you don’t grease the right palms.

As interesting as the local politics and economy were, the characters are even better. Everyone has their secrets—some are better guarded than others. I found Bella particularly empathetic, and her husband, is just as easy to dislike. One would wonder how these people end up with such bad matches if it were made clear that arranged marriages to benefit the family coffers was not a thing of the past. There are so many characters to follow in the book, you can’t help but find several that you are completely engaged in.

Hotel Portofino is a well-written, leisurely pace, slice of life story, and a charming read. 

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