LUCCA, 23 April – Australian author Catherine McNamara has a love-hate relationship with Italy. It’s clear she loves all there is to love about the country – indeed the mountains of Northern Italy are where she and her four children have now made their home after stints in Paris and Ghana – but there are some things about Italy that she just can’t swallow.
“I am cheesed off with the way women are not allowed to age gracefully in this country, all these plastic boobs and lips, women who let themselves become 40-year old Barbie dolls,” she says on the eve of publication of novel in the United Kingdom, The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy.
The novel, McNamara’s first foray into the world of commercial comedy/fiction, follows the story of Marilyn, a divorced English woman with teenage children who has been betrayed by a philandering husband. She escapes to the glamorous world of Milan where her ‘evolution’ takes place, through learning Italian and encounters with surprising characters, not to mention lots of raunchy sex.
Although the book is set in Italy with locations and language lessons that are familiar to her, as well as the trials and tribulations of raising teenage children and dealing with ex-husbands, McNamara says the plot is not based on her own story. There are clearly however many issues in the book that are dear to her heart.
“I wanted humour, I wanted a giggle. But I also wanted to point a finger at the botoxed dummies forty-year-old women become. I wanted to show a woman living beyond her boundaries, a woman recalibrating her senses, her expectations, her evolution,” says the author.
McNamara wrote the book in just six months, mostly in her chicken shed and away from her kids: “It was the only way to get some peace and quiet!” Time, she says, was an essential component of the writing. “You have to detach and come at it with a fresh set of eyes. Your mind is working so constantly when writing, but when you let things lie that’s when the ideas come.”
The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy is being launched this evening in London through Indigo Dreams: http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/catherine-mcnamara/4561751985 It is also available on www.amazon.co.uk.