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  • Writer's pictureNia Forrester

'The Worst Kind of Want' Liska Jacobs

Priscilla "Cilla" Messing was born into a well-known Hollywood family, but her life is now very different than it used to be. Her father and sister, Emily, are dead and she is the sole caretaker for her mother who is temporarily confined to a rehabilitative facility. When one of the nurses mistakes the 43-year-old Cilla for her mother's sister rather than daughter, she considers how such a thing would never have happened to her much more conventionally beautiful sister, Emily, who has only been dead a year. That reminder of her sister becomes almost prescient because shortly thereafter, Cilla's brother-in-law calls from Italy to ask for her help with, Hannah, her niece who seems very much in danger of going off the rails and becoming far too wild.

Italy--away from Hollywood and her mother's illness and other difficult memories--seems like the perfect plan and Cilla eagerly accepts, leaving her mother in the care of her doctors and Guy, Cilla's much older former lover. Once she arrives in Italy, rather than helping to calm her 15-year-old niece down, Cilla gets drawn into her wild life and wide circle of friends, including into the sphere of the strangely magnetic 17-year-old Donato. Somehow, through the long nights, drinking, dancing and flirtation, Cilla begins to lose her very tenuous grasp on control of her life, and must come to terms with what she's become, who she once was, and what she's lost.

While the story was compelling and the writing pretty close to flawless, this felt like a very long short story elongated for purposes of producing a novel. The same situations and realizations played out over and over again, just in new, picturesque Italian locales that showcased the author's ability to create a strong sense of place. By about the midpoint, Cilla had already reached her epiphany (as does the reader) and there seemed to be no further character development or exposition to be had. Still, the book carried on and produced the inevitable climax which felt by then unnecessary.

Recommended for readers of literary and character-driven fiction. Though this was a three-star read for me, it seems unlikely bordering on impossible that an author of this talent produced a "bad" book, so I plan to read her debut novel, 'Catalina'. Another one about a woman ruining and then trying to recover herself. Yay!

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