Lake Como by Anita Hughes

Source: St. Martin’s Press
Paperback, 274 pages
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Lake Como by Anita Hughes is a summer read that will sweep readers away to Lake Como, Italy, and wish they were being romanced and fed so well!  Hallie Elliot is part of a competitive interior design firm in San Francisco, Calif., and she has a journalist boyfriend, Peter, who dotes on her while wooing the famous and infamous to spill their secrets.  While her life is humming along in America, her half-sister Portia’s marriage is falling apart in Italy.  Hughes has crafted a novel about building and rebuilding family ties, particularly between sisters, and how unexpected events can change the course of one’s life in better ways.

Hallie’s mother, Francesca, was a carefree teen studying and playing abroad when she met Pliny and quickly married him.  Unwittingly, she had entered the old world of family politics, becoming a part of Italian aristocracy with their own ideas of motherhood and obligation.  As a teen, Francesca could not handle the pressure, leaving her two children, Marcua and Portia, behind.  Hallie has lived a privileged life in California, thanks to Francesca’s mother, Constance, a socialite and constant mothering presence.  Hallie’s life is not as cohesive as many family units with a mother and father and siblings living together, but she’s able to rise above and carve out her own life.  Hughes peppers the story with elements of Hallie’s growing-up years to ensure that readers understand her foibles.

Readers will be immersed in Lake Como’s romance — the glittering light playing off the waves and the sleek satin dresses hugging the curves of each woman — and swept up in the family drama caused by a clash of old world tradition and the realities of the modern world.  Portia is struggling with the pull between those worlds, but Hallie is there to pull her back to simpler times when they shared music and sleepovers one summer as kids.  She brings her back to life just by being her sister, and while at one point Hallie forgets that connection amidst her own troubles, these sisters have a concrete bonds.

Lake Como by Anita Hughes is about finding out who you are, even in the worst circumstances, and relying on the bonds you know to be true when you find yourself waffling.  Hughes is an exceptional dramatist, weaving in the past and present to create a fuller picture of the family.  The bonds tying these members together will last for many years to come, and some readers may even want to see a sequel. (I know I do!)

About the Author: (photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper, and was named “One of Australia’s Next Best Writers.” (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

She received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing program.

Check out my review of Monarch Beach!


  1. I’ll have to borrow this from you. It sounds really good!

  2. This book is on my list of ones I either want to read or listen to. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much – your thoughts on it make me want to get to it even sooner.

  3. I’m not sure about the romance but I do like the setting.

  4. I do so like the setting.