Book Buzz: Siracusa


Book Buzz: Siracusa When People Magazine, Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly all named Delia Ephron’s Siracusa one of their top books of the year, that was enough to intrigue me about this novel, although I didn’t really need prompting to read the latest from an author whose work I always enjoy.

Two years ago I recommended Ephron’s Sister Mother Husband Dog . This time, Ephron switches gears and takes us to the town of Siracusa, located on the sun-drenched coast of Sicily. Vacationing together there are two married couples whose complicated relationships are as twisted and treacherous as the rocky paths on the island.


Meet New Yorkers Michael, a well-known writer, and his wife Lizzie, a freelance journalist. Lizzie had a long-ago affair with Finn, a restauranteur, whose control freak wife Taylor and strange 10 year-old daughter Snow (suffering from “extreme shyness syndrome”) accompany him. Although Finn and his family live in Portland, Maine, he and Lizzie have kept in touch platonically over the years. Why not travel to Siracusa, Lizzie suggests, as an homage to her deceased father who had spoken glowingly of the crumbling charm of the ancient town.

Note: vacationing with an ex-lover and your current spouse is probably never a good idea.

At the beginning, all seems benign enough. Four sophisticated, cultured Americans and one child are on vacation together. The plot is as languid as the Ionian Sea on a quiet morning. Everyone is guardedly happy to be on vacation together. The first stop is Rome for a few days. Tempers are under control until they arrive at Siracusa and Taylor is appalled at the primitive accommodations. That seems to be the point at which dark clouds begin to amass. Seemingly innocent flirtations become something more sinister … jealousy and betrayal lead to emotional warfare … infatuations and danger take the plot in a different direction.

Told in retrospect in alternating voices of the four adults, the narrations reveal earlier missteps of each character, and their desire to make sense out of lives that haven’t gone quite the way they expected. Lizzie, Michael, Taylor and Finn reveal hidden secrets and resentments by recounting the same incidents but with completely different interpretations. Gradually, we come to learn that things are not as they seem. Their secrets and lies bubble to the surface and position them for emotional upheaval.

Aha, you will think as the clues start to accumulate and the plot thickens. Maybe you will figure out the delicously macabre ending, but I was certainly surprised.

Ephron is a master storyteller. Her skewering take on marriage and mores, with a healthy dose of black humor thrown in to sweeten the pot, makes Siracusa a book you will not be able to put down. Now out in paperback, Siracusa is just the right blend of psychological thriller and expose of human nature that makes it a hugely satisfying read. No wonder it has found its way onto so many Top Book of the Year sites.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Siracusa. Please leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.


I received a copy of Siracusa from Blue Rider Press for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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41 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: Siracusa

  1. Oh my, now I’m intrigued. I don’t think I’ve heard of this author before but I’m going to check her out and this book.

  2. Helene, great review! I read Siracusa a few months ago, and like you, I could not put it down. I was fascinated with the shifting points of view, and how perfectly she captured each character’s voice.

  3. Looks like a great summer read. I will check it out.

  4. Elise on June 7, 2017 at 12:15 pm said:

    Wow, that sounds like a great summer book! Can’t wait to read it!

  5. Lucy Harding on June 7, 2017 at 12:54 pm said:

    Sounds like an awesome book. Hope to read it some day.

  6. My daughter would love to read this book. I need to enter to win this for her.

  7. Love your recommendations. Thanks, Helene.

  8. Annette Yedlin on June 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm said:

    I do love a great book and this one sounds very interesting. Thank you for the suggestion

  9. Adaleta on June 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm said:

    How interesting, you did a wonderful review. I will have to check this book out myself and see what I think

  10. I never heard of these books or the author and I am so excited to get them right away. This story sounds exactly like the kind of story that I like (you tell it really well). I love reading a book that pulls me into the characters and story until I forget the world around me!

  11. This book sounds pretty intense and exciting at the same time. It’s nice that it’s told in different views and not just one, it makes you more engrossed in the story itself.

    • hbludman on June 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm said:

      Yes, and it makes you second guess the characters as the story moves along. Quite a feat for an author to achieve.

  12. Leigh Anne Borders on June 8, 2017 at 8:18 am said:

    We are heading to the beach soon and I have been looking for some good books to take. This one seems like one I could really enjoy!

  13. Sounds like an interesting book for summer holiday! Still need a few beach books for this year’s vacation time!

  14. gingermommyrants on June 8, 2017 at 10:34 am said:

    I love stories that are told from different views. I will have to add this to my must read list.

  15. I always like a good psychological thriller, particularly in the summertime. With so many recommendations I’m curious to read this one now!

  16. Wow! This is a great book review that you did. Never heard of this book, but this must be an interesting one to read.

  17. Blair villanueva on June 9, 2017 at 6:11 am said:

    I am literally intrigue for this book. And Amazon give this a thumbs up so I guess it won’t disappoint me 🙂

  18. Sounds like such a fantastic story teller. Looks like it has some good reviews. I need a good read

  19. Sounds like a great interesting book. I have to find time for reading even if it is a couple of minutes a day.

  20. Wow it looks so interesting Now I can’t to wait to check it out

  21. Jennifer L on June 10, 2017 at 3:27 am said:

    Wow you had me with the brief synopsis! I’m definitely going check out this book because I love a little drama, thriller piece.

  22. Sounds like a very interesting and intriguing story. I’m going to be putting this book in my wishlist and find out more about the author. Thanks

  23. Annemarie LeBlanc on June 11, 2017 at 8:55 am said:

    I have not read any books yet of Delia Ephron. Thanks for the book review. It does look this book is going to be an interesting read. I am including this in my 3rd Quarter Reading List.

  24. I am gathering my summer reads, this is now on top! Ephron is an amazing writer.I have promised myself this summer I get a half hour a day to relax and read with no int eruptions!

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