Six Days in Rome

Francesca Giacco. Grand Central, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5387-0642-8

In Giacco’s sensual and deliberately paced debut, an American artist in her early 30s takes a transformative trip to Rome. After getting out of a relationship with a married man, Emilia turns the Roman vacation they had planned together into a solo trip, wandering the city and reflecting on the breakup and her memories of growing up as the daughter of a famous rock singer. Emilia begins an affair with a charming American ex-pat, whose thoughtful conversation helps her to see the toll that her father’s passions and celebrity exacted on her family throughout her childhood. Giacco revels in her setting, providing rich descriptions of the streets, food, and people Emilia encounters (“Butter-yellow buildings, with their faded blue windows.... Around a nondescript corner, a gorgeous slap in the face”), but much of the narrative takes place inside Emilia’s head as she forges an identity independent of her father and her ex. Indeed, the author’s discursive style and the inconclusive ending will frustrate readers looking for an immersive narrative. Though slow moving, this is sumptuously written. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (May)