The self-appointed mayor of a tiny Italian village is determined to save his hometown no matter the cost in this “charming farce that highlights the triumph of hope and community” (People).
Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all the residents will be forced to disperse. In a desperate bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.
Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.
As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!), Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?
A “warmhearted, original gem of a novel” (Amy Poeppel, author of Musical Chairs), The Patron Saint of Second Chances is perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and Maria Semple.
An Italian man schemes up a phony film production to save his tiny town in Simon's sparkling, hilarious debut. Vacuum repairman and hotelier Giovannino Speranza needs €70,000 to fix Prometto's municipal pipes or face relocation along with the other 212 inhabitants. Especially distraught over the prospect of moving away from his daughter and granddaughter, Speranza starts a wild rumor that famous actor Dante Rinaldi is coming to town to film his next project. The locals believe him and get involved, with Speranza's employee Smilzo writing a script and starting production, led on by Speranza's implausible explanations. Problems compound when the butcher financing the film insists his son, who has stage fright, have a role; and when Speranza's uncle siphons off funds to build a theater for the premiere. The rumor moves beyond the town, attracting tourists for the first time in years and straining Speranza's ability to keep things in check, especially when Dante's agent starts making threatening calls. The ramshackle film shapes up, but every day brings a new mini catastrophe as the deadline to stop the water shutoff rapidly approaches and Speranza keeps the truth from everyone but a select few. Simon's wit pervades every page, with colorful portrayals of Speranza and the town's quirky inhabitants. This triumphant farce is a gem.