This novel is about the multi-generational Talaminis, a family that makes ice cream as its livelihood. The family provides a history of its memorable characters.
First you meet Giuseppe “Beppi” Battista Talamini, an 80-year-old man who has retired from the family business and is now enthralled with Betty Heidler, the Olympic hammer throw champion from Germany. It was Guiseppe’s grandfather who began the family ice-cream business in the 1880s.
The story is a bit slow as you learn the entire history of how the family became an ice-cream dynasty and about the legacy they built. For a century the Talamini family has spent their summers running an ice-cream shop in Rotterdam, returning to their home in northern Italy for the winter.
The majority of the story is told by Giovanni, the older of “Beppi’s” two sons. Both Giovanni and Luca have grown up working in the ice-cream shop. It is assumed they will continue the family business and legacy. But Giovanni breaks with tradition and goes to school to study poetry.
As a grown man Giovanni travels the world organizing poetry festivals. Giovanni understand his father’s disappointment in his career path, but he doesn’t understand why Luca resents him. After many years of not speaking to Giovanni, Luca finally opens up and voices his resentment. Luca resents having been left to run the family business (which he does very well), never being allowed to pursue his own path. Giovanni doesn’t understand because Luca married the woman of his dreams.
The Talamini family has many stories and quirks in this book with themes of sacrifice and responsibility. You learn that although a family legacy may be a blessing, it can also be a curse. You learn that the choices you make can have far reaching consequences. It is also a story about poetry. If you like poetry you will enjoy the many references to famous poets and the lines of poetry that are quoted throughout.
Above all, however, this is a story about ice cream. You will never be able to eat another bowl without thinking of this book – it’s certain to have you trying all its new flavors.