I was not terribly impressed with this book. It was enjoyable in a way, but I think the fact that I only managed to finish it because it was all I had to do on a plane is not exactly complimentary. I think, though, that it's supposed to be rather removed from reality.
This is a story of two children who travel to Italy, where their mother is living with her lover. Their intention is to stop the divorce and have her return home. They do succeed, though by the end of the novel one can only wonder whether or not that's a good thing. I think this is an interesting commentary on the reality of life versus the fantasy. Fanny and her lover are enjoying an idyllic honeymoon (for want of a better word) waiting for the divorce to go through so that they can marry. And then Fanny's two younger children arrive, determined to convince her that she's making a mistake. The actions of the children, Caddie in particular, are the centrepoint of the novel.
Though the children do eventually succeed in breaking the relationship between the two adults I think that says more about their relationship than the children. Their relationship is not able to survive the reality of children. Children, moreover, that are wilful, angry and hurt. Rob's complete inability to understand that Fanny is both woman and mother and that he will not always be the most important thing in her universe is what finally breaks their relationship. I think, however, that the true success in this book is when Caddie realises that no matter what happens she will still be herself. In that moment she has truly grown up, despite only being about eleven. The knowledge that she can only depend on herself for her happiness and the completeness of her life makes her more mature at the end of the book than any other character, particularly the adults.