Marciano is an apt guide to these exotic lives, having lived on three continents and pursued serial careers as a filmmaker, a screenwriter, and a novelist. Not all of her protagonists endear themselves to the reader—some are whiners; others, liars—but she engages us so intimately with them, we do not tire even of their foibles. (They, on the other hand, often grow weary of one another.)' '
The title story establishes the cosmopolitan, faintly nostalgic atmosphere that permeates Marciano's prose. Emma, an Italian teen on a family holiday in Greece, devoutly hopes that by mastering English and strengthening her swimming skills she will one day attract Jack, a beguiling British boy vacationing at the same beach. Yet she discovers, first as an adolescent and then as an adult, that fluency in a language doesn't guarantee her yearnings will be heard, much less understood.' '
Frustrated communication, whether the consequence of a Skype encounter or a tête-à-tête, is a recurrent theme, as is the quest for the elusive person or place that allows one to feel at home. In Marciano's nuanced emotional universe, a foreigner is likely to consider herself an outsider no matter how long she's lived elsewhere—especially if she still dreams in her mother tongue.