Set in Rome and loosely based on their own courtship, this charming debut novel tells how a naive young “Camerican” falls for and wins the hand of a beautiful Italian sophisticate. Clearly at a disadvantage, he is drawn into a complicated love triangle while trying to convince her their age and cultural imbalances are unimportant.
The story explores the difficulties an inexperienced kid from Port Angeles faces when he arrives in Italy to track down his late-great aunt’s missing will — and falls in love. It also reveals the challenges an older woman faces when wooed by a fervent and relentless young man who has a romantic proposal, and a fascination for ketchup.
Bale was raised by immigrant parents where “family first” was the glue that sustained them through difficult times. After his younger brother developed cancer Bale’s family drew even closer and the concept of family first quickly became “family only.” When Bale decided to date an older woman, not to mention a cultured and glamorous Italian, his mother was convinced it would never work and Bale had to choose between family, traditions and his heart.
“My wife and I were a ‘diverse’ couple before diversity was cool… but sometimes following your heart means ignoring your head,” said Bale.
When asked how he managed to write a novel while running a business, he said: “When you follow inspiration you find energy you never knew you had. I’ve wanted to write this story for a long time so started getting up early every morning and typing as many words as I could in an hour.”
He said the greatest challenge they faced in their relationship was overcoming their own prejudices. “It’s not about compromising or giving anything up. It’s about embracing another culture without the need to change it.”