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Lost Hearts in Italy: A Novel
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Lost Hearts in Italy: A Novel

2.81 of 5 stars 2.81  ·  rating details  ·  283 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The Italian phrase Mai due senza tre–“never two without three”–forms the basis of Andrea Lee’s spellbinding novel of betrayal. Sophisticated and richly told, Lost Hearts in Italy reveals a trio caught in the grip of desire, deception, and remorse.

When Mira Ward, an American, relocates to Rome with her husband, Nick, she looks forward to a time of exploration and awakening.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 22nd 2007 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published June 20th 2006)
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Khaliah Williams
In some ways this is a really lovely book. Most people who read it are usually turned off by what I have heard referred to as the author's pretentious nature. Underneath it all, this is a sad love story told by a very educated woman, and maybe her education infiltrates the narrative a bit too much, but you can't deny compelling prose. Not my favorite by Andrea Lee, but a good book just the same.
Gina Maples
I really liked this book. If you've been to Italy you will be familiar with many of the places that are visited in the book. It's a sad love story but a good read. I couldn't put it down!
This was a fascinating book...I liked it more for the thought provoking way it lead you through the story of these tragic lovers, not to see what was going to happen, which is reveled up front, but to see why and how it happened. The characters are flawed and real and very multi-diminsional. I am still thinking about this book and the characters - days later- wondering why they made the decisions they made and evaluating my own life to ward against the dangers they fell prey to.
Frances Coles
I thought that this was just a really well-done book. And it's a nice combination of being quite frothy and very intelligent. I also like this author's collection of short stories, Interesting Women. She's an expat in Italy, and anything about expats interests me these days. Lost Hearts is about an extramarital affair, but it's also just about the condition of being foreign. I read quite a mean review of this book, in which the reviewer seemed to be accusing Andrea Lee of being exclusionary and ...more
I read this book in just a few days because I was afraid that stopping it would lead to abandoning it (and I prefer to finish books unless they are utterly dire). I love Andrea Lee's short stories, but my by basic problem with this novel is that it just isn't as interesting as it thinks it is. Packed with pseudo-profound observations and pretentious descriptions of the protagonist's Italian surroundings, it was a truly tedious read at times. However, I'd give it 2.5 stars on the grounds that it ...more
I find it very hard to get invested in the trials and tribulations of the very rich, which no doubt explains why the sarcastic mantra running through my head as I read this novel was, 'oh, poor babies, life so hard.'

The protagonists of the novel are a Harvard-educated, white financier from New England, a Harvard-educated African-American writer from Philadelphia, and a street-smart Italian businessman who is obscenely wealthy, getting on in years, and, let's face it, a complete whore. The three
Jaclyn Day
This book tells the story of how a woman’s love affair and adultery changed her marriage and her lover. It jumps in time, from the “present” to the “past,” telling the story from every possible perspective. There’s a lot of unanswered questions in this book, questions that the characters try to get answered and questions that the reader walks away with.

Like, for instance, why I didn’t like this book more. It seemed promising and had even received a few good reviews from reputable sources, so I t
For me, this book is more of a 2.5.

Andrea Lee is a good writer, and the way the story weaves back and forth through time was interesting. I especially liked the character asides at the end of each chapter from someone in the story who was not a main character; e.g., a waiter or the vegetable seller, etc. I loved the fact that this book was set in Italy; the descriptions of famous places in Rome were compelling, and the author had authentic insight into Italian culture. Despite the good points, t
Jan 04, 2009 Caroline added it
Shelves: unfinished
I gave this one up reluctantly. . .I love Andrea Lee's writing style and the characterizations she creates. For the time being, though, that couldn't overcome the structural weirdness of this novel. The first chapter completely sucked me in, promising to tell a story about the main character and how her marriage dissolved. But each new chapter jumps around in time, and point of view keeps switching. I don't mind this in principle, but the changes are so drastic and frequent that whenever I start ...more
"Sophisticated and richly told" doesn't seem like an apt description to me. These were mostly shallow, despicable people behaving in a highly unlikely manner. I picked it up because it was set in Italy and I love Italy. This wasn't about Italy at all. It just had a few Italian phrases in it. I wound up skipping huge swathes of the book to get to the next thing that might happen only to find out that not much of anything happens. Save your money.
This is one of the most painstaking books I have read in a while. There was no climax. There was nothing nostalgic about it being set in Italy, which I hoped for. I've been to a few of the cities it was set in, and did not "see" the city through the book. It was all so shallow. The characters were also shallow and hard to relate to. There was nothing there to keep me coming back, except that I MUST finish a book when I start one. I would never recommend this book to a friend.
Not nearly as good as her book of short stories (Interesting Women) this novel is about a high flying American ex-pat couple (handsome blue-eyed WASP guy and stunning light-skinned Black gal who meet at Harvard, of course) who move to Italy where their marriage collapses after gal has an affair with obnoxious rich old Italian magnate (think Ari Onassis or Dominque Strauss Kahn). All the name-dropping - the fancy American prep schools, the ivy league colleges, the elite international hotels and r ...more
Kim Miller
Hmmm, call me jaded maybe but I kept waiting for this novel to have a climactic ending but it never really seemed to build or go anywhere. I found the three narrator style frustrating because just as I'd start to get interested in a character their voice and perspective was snatched away. I was also super hopeful of being transported to Rome through the writing but found the location to be more of a where's where than a lived experience. The author spent a whole lot of time telling me how Italia ...more
I seriously didn't want this one to end. It's the story of Nick, Mira and Zenin. Nick and Mira are the perfect American couple who move to Rome and have a child. On the flight to Rome Mira meets Zenin, a rich Italian, whom she has an affair with that spans several years and several countries. It's also a story about what binds people together (or more precisely what doesn't bind them together) about living abroad, about Italy, about how stories interwine as we live our lives. Lee's writing is fi ...more
I liked the book and its rather unorthodox style and the unsympathetic view it takes of a woman who foolishly destroys a marriage. Her take on the ex-pat life in Italy was spot on. I couldn't put this down.
RH Walters
One heady paragraph describing Mira leaving her mother at the airport to fly to Italy hit me like a glass of wine. This is a sad exquisitely written story of 2 young Americans called Neonati ("the newborns") by their Italian friends and the undoing of their innocence as they decide who they are. Lee suggests that Italians know themselves in a way Americans do not and Mira tumbles into a life-changing affair out of an eager bookishness. Most sorrowful and interesting is how little pleasure the af ...more
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. I liked the overall style of it - going back & forth in time, with points of view not just from the main characters but also random characters. We know going into it that Mira is going to cheat on her husband and we know it ruins their marriage, but I couldn't help thinking "Don't do it!" as I was reading!

There is a line in the very first chapter of the book that still resonates with me -- "we always belong forever to people who have hurt us ba
Mar 17, 2014 Martha added it
I finished this novel, not because I became invested in the characters or the story, but, because, I really enjoyed the style of the author. Each of the characters have their own voice and the reader hears their voices in their own chapters. At the end of each chapter an outsider voices an observation. The style kept me reading until the end, in spite of the fact, I did even like any of the main characters.
This one did not hold my interest, I didn't care for any of the characters, the writing felt disjointed and it took far too long to read when it shouldn't have for the amount of pages it was - all this has me concluding it just was not for me this one. Shame really, I like to read about Italy and the goings on there but this book probably could have been based in a number of places, there wasn't really an Italy feel to it. Do I wish I had my reading time back - unfortunately I do.
Lisa Forsen
I was a little leery starting this read as I had not read very many glowing reviews. Although I enjoyed the style of writing, I did not find any of the characters likeable. Maybe I wasn't supposed to? I also was disappointed in the lack of description of the setting - I expected a little more. Part of the appeal of the book was the setting for me, having visited Italy. I felt it could have taken place anywhere. Disappointing, even when I did not have great expectations.
This book was one that I just couldn't relate to. The female character was unsympathetic and the male characters were flat and boring. This book demonstrates the destruction that can be inflicted upon a life when someone makes a bad choice. I never really felt that Mira making intentional decisions or that she was unable to control herself, she was just stupid in my opinion. I never felt that any of the characters were truely in love with anyone in their life.
Liane Spicer
Beautifully written, fascinating look at the inexplicable way that passion can impel us to destroy the good in our lives and hurt the ones we love. An unsentimental examination of an aspect of life that is as compelling as it is baffling. And the setting is Italy - majestic, sculpted by the weight of its history, inscrutable and worldly... In addition, the novel is stylistically intriguing. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Ms. Lee's work.
Andrea Lee once again provides an interesting perspective that is quite grey and makes the reader think. It is very difficult to pass definitive judgement on some of the characters. She delves and stays in sensitive areas no matter how much it may hurt. Nothing is candy coated or fantasized.

One of the reasons why I enjoy her books is because her African-American female characters are not stereotypes. And, her writing style is beautiful.
Denise Grinols
I could not get into this book. hated the storyline.
I struggled to like the structure of this book. It had three different viewpoints and shifted from chapter to chapter. Within each viewpoint it had two different time periods and a comment by someone else loosely connected. So I never quite felt like I got into the flow of the book. Young married American couple go to live in Italy and she has an affair with a wealthy Italian man.
This book is written from a variety of viewpoints, which I always enjoy. Many of the books on my list share this characteristic. However, this book goes one step better. It is not only written from the point of view of the three main characters, but a few random ones as well. I also enjoy knowing what happens from the start, and then learning how that came about.
Debbie Robson
Although this is an intelligently written novel I ended up enjoying it more for the wonderfully specific Italian settings (the details that only a resident can bring), rather than the characters themselves. For me the scenes were just too short. They were more like vignettes than a real interplay between the three protaginists. Other readers may disagree.
The atmospheric scenes of Italy are beautifully written, which is really what drew me to the book. However, none of the characters are appealing, including the protagonist, and the chemistry behind her relationship with this Zenin person is totally absent. Hard to read a book where you can't stand any of the characters, but Italy kept me going.
Wonderfully set in Rome and around Italy. Great Italian phrases that make you laugh and provide great insights into how Italians think about women, food and Italy. Mira, Zenin and Nick come across as self centered individuals who have very little to offers others and consequently don't disappoint you in where they end up.
Andrea Lee wrote the classic Sarah Phillips which I remember really liking. She has a beautiful way with words and acute if caustic perception. This book is about a newlywed interracial american couple in Rome. The ancestor of this book is James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. Except this is no where near as good.
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Andrea Lee received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard University.

Lee made her debut in 1981 with a journalistic reflection on life in the Soviet Union, Russian Journal. The book came after a 1978 exchange visit to Moscow State University with her husband when she was 25.

She is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, and her fiction and nonfiction writing has also appeared in The
More about Andrea Lee...
Interesting Women: Stories Sarah Phillips Russian Journal Brothers and Sisters Around the World The Lady Cavaliers

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“...which recall(s) a moment in time when raw excess made them a casual aristocracy, apart from the rest of the world.” 1 likes
“And as always, it is surprisingly small, as the voice of the conscience is said to be.” 1 likes
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