Christine Simon grew up in a very large and very loud Italian family and now lives with her husband and four children. The Patron Saint of Second Chances is her first novel.
When I wrote my debut novel, The Patron Saint of Second Chances, it was the early days of the pandemic. I hadn’t left the house in weeks, my kids were on Zoom school, and it felt eerily as if we might be trapped . . . forever. For me, one of the saving graces of that time was escaping into my novel, which is set in a tiny—and mercifully pandemic-free—Italian village. While I was physically stuck in the house, I gloried in roaming the fictional streets of Prometto, which I based on my grandparents’ real-life village—a microscopic, ramshackle place perched on a mountain and overlooking the Ionian Sea. I’ve since realized that the books to which I’ve always been most drawn have something vital in common with my own: they all take place in charming small towns. Here are five of my favorite.