Monday, August 20, 2012

Ristorante Paradiso

by Natsume Ono, 172 pages

Young Nicoletta flies off to Rome to make something of herself and to track down and confront her mother, who left her with her grandparents years ago in order to marry a man who doesn't know Nicoletta exists.  But when she shows up at her mother and step-father's out-of-the-way restaurant, her mother begs her to keep the secret till she's ready to reveal it herself.  Nicoletta struggles to balance her urge for justice with her longing to finally have her mother in her life, and as she gets to know the colorful, friendly staff (consisting, per her mother's fetishist request, of mostly older gentlemen in glasses), her indulgent step-father, and her now older and (somewhat) wiser mother, she finds her desire to shake things up waning.

A nice slice-of-life tale, this, as Nicoletta grows a little, forgives her mother, and starts to fall for one of the staff.  We get a few little glimpses into some of the restaurant employees' home lives and histories, too, and the result is gentle, touching, and fun.  Ono has a unique, distinctive style that I fell in love with a few pages into the first book of hers I read.  I'm always up for more of her, so I look forward to starting Gente, the sequel series to this one-shot, as it delves more into the personal lives of the Casetta dell'Orso's staff.

(BTW, the anime adaptation is nice, too.)

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