Cover image for The Italian party : a novel
The Italian party : a novel
1st U.S. ed.
Physical Description:
328 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Newly married [in 1956], Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of Italy, America, and each other. When Scottie's Italian teacher--a teenager with secrets of his own--disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband, and her country. Michael's dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available

On Order



The Italian Party is a sneaky book: half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world. Scottie and Michael, young newlyweds arriving in Siena in 1956, are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty and the sensory experience of a summer in the ancient city. But their reasons for being there--and the secrets they are keeping from each other--force them beneath the beautiful surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America, and each other. When Scottie's Italian teacher, a teenager with secrets of his own, goes missing, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband, and her country. Michael's dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate, and love to a new kind of complicated truth. Filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, Prosecco, handsome locals, and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.

Author Notes

Christina Lynch's picaresque journey includes chapters at Harvard, where she was an editor on the Harvard Lampoon, and in Milan, where she was correspondent for W magazine and Women's Wear Daily, and disappeared for four years in Tuscany. In L.A. she was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After,; Encore, Encore; The Dead Zone; and Wildfire. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and teaches at College of the Sequoias. The Italian Party is her debut novel.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Lynch's perceptive debut, set in 1956, Michael and Scottie Messina are a glamorous young American couple who have arrived in Siena, Italy, where the former is to open a Ford tractor agency. But this is just a cover story; unknown to Scottie, Michael is a CIA agent charged with ensuring that the city's next mayor will not be a Communist. Michael and Scottie also have other secrets: Michael is a closeted gay man who has come to Italy to be with Duncan, his lover from Yale, who has something he is hiding from Michael. And Scottie is pregnant and has yet to get up the nerve to tell her husband, for reasons that include yet another secret. Michael is soon involved in espionage capers, while Scottie becomes embroiled in the search for a missing local youth she befriended. The secrets come out just as Ambassador Clare Booth Luce arrives in Siena for a visit. The story plays like a confectionary Hollywood romance with some deeper notes reminiscent of John le Carré and Henry James. Scottie is a resilient main character who might have been played by Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn in a 1950s movie adaptation of this entertainingly subversive take on that seemingly innocent period. Agent: Claudia Cross, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Set in Siena in 1956, this debut novel is a spy thriller, comedy of manners, and valentine to Italy, spiked with forbidden sex and political skulduggery.Eleven years after the end of World War II, young American newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina arrive in Siena burdened with secrets. Michael is ostensibly there to sell tractors for Ford. In fact, he's a CIA operative whose mission is to make sure the Communist mayor is defeated. He's hiding something even more explosive, but his high-spirited wife, Scottie, doesn't have a clue. She's along as helpmeetbut, unbeknownst to Michael, is carrying a baby that's not his. Complications, as they say, ensue. Robertino, a 14-year-old boy, signs on as Scottie's Italian tutor; he's also Michael's "asset," charged with stealing the local Communist Party membership rolls. When Robertino goes missing, everyone fears the worst. There's a large supporting cast in this cinematic story, including the randy Communist mayor, Ugo; the seductive aristocrat, Carlo; and the smooth American diplomat (and Michael's special friend), Duncan. Clare Boothe Luce, the actual American ambassador to Italy, also figures in the proceedings. Much of this is fun: packed with lies and betrayals, the book delivers plenty of juicy surprises. And the author, who was a correspondent in Italy for W and Women's Wear Daily, takes obvious pleasure in writing about the country's history, customs, and culinary feats. The book falters when it tries for pathos: the death of Robertino's mother and the agony of Carlo's wife over the loss of their son don't mesh well with the rest of the action. The story also bogs down at timesshorter would have been betterand occasionally strains credulity.The ending is unexpected, with the author displaying a sophisticated, nuanced view of love and marriage that feels very modern. Or maybe it's just Italian. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ostensibly a fun and innocuous political romp, Lynch's debut also highlights America's role in foreign governments as well as the constrictive social mores of the 1950s. Scottie and Michael Messina have recently gotten married after a whirlwind romance and are moving to Siena, Italy, for Michael's job as a tractor salesman. Both parties, however, are secretly using the marriage as a cover. Michael is actually a CIA agent working to keep communism at bay, and Scottie is pregnant by another man. Each keeps even more secrets from the other as they become embedded in the Italian culture itself seemingly working hard at maintaining appearances. Lynch was the Milan correspondent for W Magazine and Women's Wear Daily, and her affection for and knowledge of the Italian people and way of living are evident: her food descriptions in particular are droolworthy. Readers will be rooting for Michael and Scottie through the story's many adventures and intrigue, while political and social commentary add an extra layer of depth.--Sexton, Kathy Copyright 2018 Booklist

Library Journal Review

DEBUT In 1956, with Cold War hysteria in the air, newlyweds Michael and -Scottie Messina arrive in Siena, Italy. Michael has been recruited by the CIA to stop the Communists from winning the mayor's race. Scottie just wants to be a good wife, without knowing exactly what that means. As a result of Michael's suspect sexuality (it was illegal at the time for gay individuals to work for the U.S. government) and a pregnant Scottie's attraction to other men, their carefree life turns first confusing and then dangerous. As Michael bumbles into dirty tricks, false-flag operations, and the caching of weapons, all in an attempt to impress both his gay handler and Clare Boothe Luce, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Scottie is ensnared by flirtatious lovers, the Palio (Siena's famous horse race), and her husband's spying. Will the secrets the two innocents abroad fail to reveal to each other destroy not only their marriage but the lives of others as well? VERDICT In her gracefully written debut, as effervescent as spumante, Lynch dramatizes the allure and power of secrets-in politics and marriage-while depicting with sly humor the collision between American do-gooder naïveté and Italian culture. Italophiles and anyone interested in spying and the expat experience (think Chris Pavone's The Expats) will love the spot-on social commentary.-Ron Terpening, formerly of Univ. of Arizona, Tucson © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.