Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The Patron Saint of Second Chances

The Patron Saint of Second Chances
  The Patron Saint of Second Chances
Author:  Christine Simon
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2022. 304 pages.
ISBN:  1982188774 / 978-1982188771

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Signor Giovannino Speranza, self-appointed mayor of the diminishing village of Prometto, population 212, knew from his sixty-years of experience in this world that, in dealing with plumbers, one must never show even a hint of weakness."

Favorite Quote:  "I am just saying, no one can be here forever. And that is why it matters what you choose to do if God gives you the chance."

Sometimes, you just need to laugh. This book certainly provides that. As the author's note sates, "As ludicrous as the story is, so many bits and pieces of it are real." That is what makes the book work. It is funny and over the top. Yet, in each one of the characters, I can see bits and pieces of people I recognize, perhaps even myself.

So, what is the story? A very small town (population 212) must come up with 70,000 euros it does not have.  Otherwise, the town will be no more, and its residents will be displaced. A visit to a nearby, slightly larger town gives Signor Giovannino Speranza an idea. That town has had a resurgence because of the possible news that a celebrity may buy a house there.

Signor Speranza brings that idea home. What if a movie was to be made in Prometto? What if a famous movie star was to film there? Could that influx of tourism save the town? It all starts with one little lie and snowballs from there.

The idea takes on a life of its own. It brings a father and daughter closer together. One family will invest in the film if roles are found for their fifteen sons. The parish priest provides input of his own. A store clerk lives his dream of making a movie. A film star sees how this made-up movie could help his career. A budding romance emerges.

In the process, there are cardboard cutouts as stand-ins, a construction project, a young man who cannot act but has the voice of an angel, an action scene with fireworks, vacuum cleaners, exploding pipes, money being spent as soon as it is saved, whoopie cushions (repeated and often!) and confessions in church to wind the way out of this ever growing web of lies to save the town. Ultimately, it is about people and caring and a community coming together to save its place in the world.

Does the movie have the desired financial impact and save the town? You will have to read the book to find out. Regardless, this hare-brained scheme forevers alters perhaps all 212 people in the town and some from beyond.

The book is silly, funny, and sweet. Neither the author nor the story takes itself too seriously. A great way to start the year. As this is a debut novel, I look forward to seeing what Christine Simon writes next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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