As much as I want to climb a mountain and hide in a cave for the next six months, I should rather be bellowing from one. 'The Divorced Lady's Companion to Italy' is about to join the realm of living, breathing books. It may now be pressed to the bosom of a sighing 40-odd woman reflecting over the sex, or turfed to the floor by a reader incensed by my loopy words. It may sit on your bookshelf, absorb coffee on your desk, or its cover may be peered at by other passengers on your train. It might be read by your anxious sister, or your mother who is helping you over the leg you broke while skiing. It might be stolen by your grandmother who chats on dating sites to intercontinental lovers before dawn. It might be read by your brother-in-law, who wishes he could bed you, or your daughter, who suspects you've been having fun in the dark. It might turn up at the dentist's, or at the bottom of that trash-can-on-wheels you call your car. It might turn up at the chalet your lover books and while the rain pummels outside, and he snores, you might sneak a read in bed. It might be in the seat pocket of the plane you catch to Moscow, where you will try not to buy another pair of boots, or in a little book exchange place you find in Nairobi, thinking What the Heck. It might be given to you, left to you, lent to you, borrowed from you.
I hope it will become dog-eared and coffee-loved and scribbled over, and may cause some of you to laugh out loud, thinking of Italy - and your 40s - in a kinky new light.
You're invited to the beginning of all this. Wear a chic dress. There will be prosecco in the air.