The Right Place by Carla Caruso

‘This the right place?’

Nella Martini has returned to Adelaide, leaving behind a failed relationship and a failed business in Melbourne.  Her Nonna, Esta Feliciano has recently died, leaving Nella her market garden, Torrente Blu.  Torrente Blu is one of the few remaining market gardens in Mitchell Park and Nella plans to clean up the property and sell it.  She wants to avoid run-ins with her neighbour: Adrian Tomaso, whom she thinks of as ‘The Heathcliff of Marion Road.’

But once Nella picks up her Nonna’s handwritten cookbook, things start to change. She remembers the time she spent here, she remembers Adrian and his twin brother Davide.  Part of the complication for Nella is that Adrian has been leasing part of her Nonna’s property for his market garden.

The story moves between Nella’s experience in the present, and Esta’s experience of moving to Australia in the 1950s.  Nella dreams of a return to the fashion scene, while Esta had dreamed of a return to Italy.  Are dreams always of being somewhere else, of doing something different?

Nella’s time at Torrente Blu is longer than she’d expected it to be (it takes time to pack up a life time of belongings and to sort through memories) and the longer she stays, the more comfortable she starts to feel.  And then, Davide Tomaso returns.  What will Nella do?

What a delightful novel! I kept wanting to chide Nella, to get her to focus on the possibilities in the present.  I felt for Esta, as she tried to make sense of her new life in Australia, as she dealt with tragedy and came to terms with all the changes.  I loved Esta’s traditional Italian recipes (with Nella’s notes).

Was I happy with the ending?  Absolutely.  Will I spoil it for you?  No way.  Enjoy it for yourself.

Note: My thanks to HQ Fiction for providing me with an ARC of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith