“We were one unit of two souls, free and united by our own choice. This way, in the positive force of the universe, love wins. That easy road other couples travel on, it leads only to mediocrity…ours was the path walked by the greatest lovers in history.”
What would you do for a secret love?
Despite not speaking for nearly twenty years, Massimo Damiani, a ‘rags-to-riches’ oil executive, summons Sofie to his hospice bedside in picturesque Tuscany—his last wish?…to reconcile their stormy history and set long-buried secrets to rest.
Sofia Romano, a powerful Wall Street banker in Manhattan’s financial district, reeling with heartache in her rocky marriage, ignores her husband’s protests, and flies to Italy to comfort the dying man from her past.
With old promises tugging at her heart and the memory of a tempestuous love that grew and crumbled time and again, will Sofia ever come to terms with the flaws in her marriage and gain the strength to rebuild it?
“I once heard it said, returning to a place is the best way to measure how far you’ve come.”
The first ever book I’ve read that is written by the wonderful E. Graziani was the historical War in My Town and I absolutely loved it. I just knew that her new book, Everything That Was Us will have the same grace, wisdom and nuance. Based on the blurb alone, the reader will most probably expect a passionate account of a man and a woman’s love story. It is very much that — full of sentimental love declarations and picturesque locations that spans decades. But for me, what I really found unforgettable in Sofie and Max’s story is its honesty and the realistic portrayal of two strong personalities caught in an intense attraction to each other, but always surprisingly staying true to their own individuality.
“If I was his religion, then he was my altar. This was home to me. I was home in his flesh.”
Reading this novel gave me the escape I needed from quarantine blues. I felt like I traveled around the world while staying at home. Pescaglia in Italy took my breath away. I explored Tuscany and Lucca, walking on the city walls while enjoying my granita al limone. I was seduced by the glamour of Manhattan in New York. The early parts of the novel reminded me of some of my favorite reads: Love & Gelato and Call Me By Your Name, mostly because of the characters’ youth and the Italian setting. The feeling of nostalgia was strong as E. Graziani took me back to the impulsiveness of younger years.
“There is nothing I am more sure of than what I feel in my heart for you. I love you more than my very breath…I swear I breathe only to to keep my heart beating so I can love you more.”
Sofie and Max had the kind of insta-love that I don’t mind reading about, because it is truthful in its depiction of the incendiary nature of love at first sight and young love. The special kind of love that is so intoxicating. That feeling that can be as bitter as it is sweet. We see the adulting themes and reality checks almost as soon as the couple’s relationship begin, but the complexities of their situation were more defined in the second half of the book when the couple is reunited in New York. These later chapters in turn gave me a lot of One Day vibes, because here we witness two intelligent people struggling with their emotions, and made helpless by it.
“Death doesn’t scare me. Neither does being alone in facing it… Dying without setting things right does, though. I want to make things right.”
To borrow the author’s words, Sofie and Max “doesn’t make sense” but it’s the “most natural thing in the world”. Max is intense as a person, and some of his actions felt a bit problematic for me because they are bordering on emotionally abusive. But he is ambitious and relentless and it makes sense that these are things that Sofie just couldn’t resist about him.
Sofie on the other hand is equally ambitious. She knows what she wants and how to get it. She is smart and beautiful and knows what kind of love she deserves. It just so happens that Max was never the right person for her, no matter how much they desire each other. I can’t help but cheer for her whenever she decides to do what is best for herself, no matter how difficult or heartbreaking it will be for both of them. It was both a pleasure and torture to see them get together only to fall apart over and over again. It is essentially selfishness that keeps them from being together. But it is this exact facet of humanity that I loved seeing in this couple. At the end of the day, Sofie and Max are just normal people, but they are made special by the great love that they shared.
“Some days, I felt everything at once. Other days, nothing at all. And I wouldn’t know what’s worse, drowning beneath the waves or dying from the thirst.”
So yes, it is a novel about regrets, and getting older, and the acceptance of our mortality and our surrendering to the passing of time. But it is also about living fully in the present. The novel teaches us that this is not impossible, if only we are strong enough to move on from the ghosts of our past, and let go of our worries for the future.
About the Author
E. Graziani is the author of the women’s fiction novel, EVERYTHING THAT WAS US, February 8, 2021 (The Wild Rose Press). She has also written Breaking Faith (Second Story Press), a contemporary YA fiction novel, selected for the ‘In the Margins’ Book Award 2018 Recommended Fiction List, and one of Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens, and the YA historical memoir, War in My Town (Second Story Press), one of Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens and finalist in the Hamilton Arts Council 2016 Literary Awards for Best Non-Fiction. Reader and reviewer, WUoC Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, 2019. Regular contributor, CHCH Morning Live Book Chat. She resides in Canada with her husband and four daughters. To contact the author or for more information on new releases or events, please visit her website.
Everything That Was Us by E. Graziani
Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Published February 8th 2021 by The Wild Rose Press
Edition Language: English
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Follow the Blog Tour
Many thanks to the lovely E. Graziani for the opportunity to read her new book Everything That Was Us, and to Priya of Writerly Yours for having me in the book tour.
Below is the full list of participating bloggers. Do check out their awesome pages and I hope you discover new things to love!