Title: Three Gold Coins
Author: Josephine Moon
A warm-hearted contemporary tale set in Australia and Italy, Three Gold Coins is the first book written by Josephine Moon that I have read but it won’t be the last. I just loved the skilful twisting together of romance and suspense, chick-lit and family drama.
This is a novel which celebrates family ties, food and the importance of kindness, all things which I passionately believe in.
The story begins when Australian tourist Lara Foxleigh tosses three gold coins into the Trevi Fountain in the age-old superstition: one coin for love, one coin for marriage, one coin to return to Rome. As she watches the crowd passing by, she notices a stooped old man struggling along, helped by a young woman in tight flashy gym gear. Then the old man is alone. His carer has robbed him and abandoned him, and he has no way of getting home. Lara is moved to help him, and ends up offering to drive the old man home. She does not realise Samuel lives in Tuscany, a long way from Rome, and so finds herself embarked on a much bigger adventure than she had imagined.
Before long, Lara finds herself cooking and caring for Samuel, and drawn into his family feuds. The only person to talk to him is his nephew Matteo, a handsome young man with a debilitating stutter. My heart was won at that moment. As someone who has struggled all my life with a stutter, I could not help but warm to the world’s first stuttering romantic hero! Lara learns to milk the goats and make pasta and ricotta cheese, while slowly falling in love with Matteo. Yet there is darkness in both Lara and Samuel’s pasts that threatens her new-found happiness.
Back in Australia, Lara’s mother, Eliza, her sister Sunny and Sunny’s young twins, Daisy and Hudson, are facing a threat that Lara has tried to run from. And in Italy, Samuel’s loneliness and isolation are a problem she must try to solve. The story moves back and forth between the voices of Lara and Sunny, and between the past and the present, slowly revealing the secrets that are overshadowing Lara’s life. Josephine Moon sensitively explores themes of depression and mental illness, psychological abuse and violence, which give her story extra gravitas and depth to balance the warmth and charm.