THE COVER of author Nicky Pellegrino's latest book Under Italian Skies is enough to make you want to pick it up and begin reading.

It features a young woman looking out over an azure sea below a vividly orange sky with a pink rose in full bloom pushing on to the cover from one side.

The image is just what we perceive Italy to be all about, and Pellegrino, whose dad was Italian, is well-versed in the lifestyle of the people of that romantic country, which she has a passion for and visits at every opportunity.

The Auckland freelance journalist, columnist and successful author of several books shares the Italians' love of fine food and weaves that feeling into her novels.


At Yarns in Barns, the Wairarapa Festival of Reading, Pellegrino has a dual role. She will be one of six panellists in the Yarns in Barns fun debate which will launch the festival on May 27, and the very next day she will be at Hedley's Bookshop holding a talk called "Escape to Italy". The talk is about her Italian-based books which include One Summer in Venice, The Italian Wedding and Delicious.

Those who come to hear her, and perhaps to drool over the prospect of visiting Italy to eat the best mozzarella and sup the wonderful wines, will pay $10 for a ticket that includes a glass of prosecco.

To whet readers' appetites, I can reveal that Under Italian Skies focuses on the life of Stella, which takes an unavoidable new direction when her boss, a legendary London fashion designer, dies suddenly and leaves her high and dry without income or a direction in life.

That's until she visits a house-swap website and discovers a magnificent old villa in a southern Italian village ...

Towards the end of the 10-day Yarns in Barns festival, novelist Kate De Goldi will give budding authors a chance to hear her version of a "Reading and Writing Life" with a presentation in the Frank Cody Lounge.

Adults will pay $8 but students can gain a free insight into how life pans out for authors.
Kate De Goldi's latest release, From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, is a beautifully written, touching story that is sure to captivate readers -- especially the younger ones, who are the future of reading and literacy in this country.

Barney Kettle never doubted that he would one day become a famous film director, and his pathway to fame had humble beginnings. Four 15-minute films enjoyed by only his classmates was hardly going to guarantee Barney a place in the history of great filmmakers, but life is full of twists, turns and opportunities.

The book is a narrative that will be just as well-received by adult readers. It is one of those rare works that can span the ages and keep you enthralled.