*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Italian Daughter, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
If you love a novel about searching for clues to the past, you’ll love The Italian Daughter, Soraya Lane’s newest novel.
When Lily receives an unexpected inheritance containing only two clues linking her to a family she’s never known, she sets out on a journey to discover the past.
Set in present day and post-WWII Italy, the novel follows Lily and her ancestor, Estee, as they navigate through difficult life choices that will both separate and eventually draw them together.
If you love all things Italian–food, family, wine… then you will love this novel by Soraya Lane about found family (along with a little romance!).
I encourage you to read it as a book club. It’s a fast-paced novel with romance, mystery, and plenty to talk about.
Soraya Lane was kind enough to provide a recipe to feature here on Book Club Bites. Her Italian Meatballs in a rich passata sauce with fresh mozzarella are the perfect Italian dish to pair with your book club discussion of The Italian Daughter! You’ll want to make a double batch for your book club.
The Italian Daughter is a novel chosen through Book Club Bites’ collaboration with The Best of Women’s Fiction podcast. Check out the fabulous podcast where Soraya Lane discusses The Italian Daughter and more: HERE.
I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for The Italian Daughter and Soraya Lane’s special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!
Check out these fun bookish gadgets…
Here’s a brief summary of The Italian Daughter:
From the publisher: Italy, 1946. “Estee, I bought this ring years ago and have kept it safe ever since. You’re the only woman I’ve ever loved.” She reached for Felix’s hand and gently closed it over the box. “No,” she whispered. “I want you to propose only when you’re truly free.”
Estee always believed that she would spend her life with her childhood sweetheart Felix. But when her incredible gift for dance gave her the opportunity to move to a big city and provide for her mother, she knew she had to sacrifice her happiness for her family’s future and a chance at a better life.
But years later, in a city of over a million people, Felix finds Estee. Due to marry the daughter of a prominent family, he is prepared to sacrifice everything to be with the love of his life. But Estee knows what is at stake: his family’s love and his livelihood could be lost forever if she says yes. Can she really follow her heart if it means him losing everything?
London, present day:Lily clutches a faded piece of paper in her hands, knowing that her life will never be the same again. Whilst grieving for her late father, she is told that her grandmother was born in a home for unmarried mothers, the only clues to her past contained on a handwritten Italian recipe and an old theatre programme.
Desperate for answers, Lily accepts a job on an Italian vineyard – a dream her father once shared. Lily receives a warm welcome from the owner’s charming son Antonio and as they chat long into the night, Antonio offers to help her discover her family’s heritage.
But arriving in Estee and Felix’s village, Lily unearths a tragic love story which has the power to change her future. As she unravels the truth of her own legacy, she begins to fall for Italy and for Antonio. Can Lily give up everything she has ever known to rebuild her life or will the risk of heartbreak force her home?
An utterly enchanting and heartbreaking novel about lost loves, family secrets and enduring hope. Perfect for fans of Santa Montefiore, Lucinda Riley and Victoria Hislop.
For The Italian Daughter Food Ideas:
A book set in Italy, featuring a nod to Nutella…I don’t think your book club will have too much trouble creating a menu for this novel.
Here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of The Italian Daughter:
- Saccottini al cioccolato — Felix’s family’s signature pastry
- Anything with chocolate hazelnut spread
- After the harvest, a quick dinner of wine, bread, cold meat, olives and cheese
- Felix invites Estee to his hotel – spaghetti and champagne
Luckily, if you are coming up short for an Italian recipe, Soraya Lane was kind enough to share her family recipe for Italian Meatballs in passata sauce.
Topped with fresh mozzarella and oregano, this dish is heavenly.
Serve it with a loaf of fresh, crusty Italian bread for dipping or even on top of a pile of spaghetti.
Trust me when I say you’ll want to double the recipe for your book club! And, even if you don’t make this for your book club, you’ll want to make it for your family. They’ll be talking about it long after the last meatball is eaten!
Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Italian Daughter!
A few tips on cooking Homemade Italian Meatballs:
Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!
1) Use fresh herbs for the best experience.
2) Letting the bread soak in milk and then mashing it creates a panade. Panade keeps the meatballs from being dry and crumbly.
3) To keep meatballs round when frying, compress in your palm as tightly as possible when forming. This helps them keep shape.
Whether you choose something from this list or try this fabulous recipe from Soraya Lane, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Italian Daughter!
The Italian Daughter Book Club Recipe:
Homemade Italian Meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 600 grams pork mince approx 1.3 lbs ground pork
- 2 slices toast crusts removed
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 2 gloves garlic crushed
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or powdered nutmeg if unavailable
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Handful of basil finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano chopped
- 1 egg
- Sea Salt & ground pepper
To finish the dish:
- 3 cups tomato passata
- 2 gloves garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 balls of fresh mozzarella* in whey drained
- Extra oregano for serving
- Parmesan for grating
- Pre-heat oven to 390 F (200 Celsius) fan bake
- Rip the bread into small pieces and place in a large bowl with the milk. Mix together so the bread is wet and leave for 5 minutes
- Add all the remaining meatball ingredients, season generously with salt and pepper and combine well. The mixture will be quite soft.
- Form into large walnut sized balls. You should get about 18.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan and cook the meatballs until golden and just cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to an ovenproof baking dish.
- Add the passata, garlic sugar and cinnamon to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes, scraping the base of the pan to lift off any sticky bits. Pour over the meatballs.
- Top with ripped pieces of mozzeralla, then bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden.
- To serve, top with grated parmesan & extra oregano. A warm loaf of crusty bread is ideal for mopping up the leftover juice on your plate, or serve over fresh spaghetti.
More Fun from Soraya Lane:
Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!
This is the kind of food I can imagine my character Lily eating with Antonio’s family in Italy – delicious meatballs with either a salad on the side and a loaf of warm, crusty bread, or served on spaghetti. I can actually see them all together as a family, laughing and sharing stories at the dinner table as they eat this.
Would like to credit someone besides yourself for the recipe?
This is actually a recipe my mum cooks for us, so I have to give Mama Lane the credit!
Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?
Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?
I didn’t, but I certainly dreamed of food while I wrote this book! It’s set in Italy, so all I could think about was red wine and pasta!
The Italian Daughter Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- This is a dual timeline novel. Which story did you gravitate towards, Lily’s or Estee’s? Do you tend to prefer the historical or contemporary timeline in dual timeline novels?
- Lily pursues a career in winemaking because she loves it, but also because her father encouraged it. After time, her desire became mixed with her father’s expectations. Do you think Lily was happy winemaking? Have you learned ways to distinguish your own desires from others expectations when they become intertwined?
- The hazelnut chocolate sauce in the book shares a similarity to the well-known Nutella. Do a quick search on Nutella’s history and discuss the parallels and differences to the novel. Do you like Nutella? Does knowing it’s complex history change your mind?
- Why didn’t Estee question the letter from Felix? After receiving it, Estee makes some hard choices. Later, she is able to forgive Felix. Could you have forgiven him?
- Some of Lily’s new family are quick to embrace her, while others are skeptical. Do you think had good reason to suspect her? Why do you think Estee left only those two pieces of paper as a trail back to her and Felix?
- Felix and Estee were able to push past their pain and make a life together. Do you think that Lily and Antonio have a chance to do the same?
- Why do you think Estee and Felix never tried to find their daughter again after she was grown, despite their obvious longing for her?
Find Soraya Lane:
Soraya can be found at these places online!
Don’t forget to check out the fabulous podcast where Soraya Lane discusses The Italian Daughter and more: HERE.
Have you read The Italian Daughter? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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