OK, I remember a lot about this book, except for the title(duh!) and the names of many of the characters. It’s actually a funny book. The author was a man I think.
I think it was written in the 60’s, bur am not positive. It’s told in the first person by a teenage girl who was raised by her grandfather, her parents having died. She’s very intelligent and has learned a lot about car care, but because she has no siblings she’s a little clueless about social interactions, especially with people her own age. After getting mocked and derided at a school dance for her old-fashioned dress(the other girls are in updated minis) her grandfather decides to send her to Rome, to visit an old acquaintance of his, an elderly countess. Grandfather knew her when he was in college, and touring Europe as part of a music scholarship. He tells his granddaughter, “she will teach you what I can’t”
Elderly countess(EC) is a snooty bitch. Family has eminent social position but little money to support it. EC is constantly on the lookout the the family is not tarred with any scandal, the term for which is brutta figura. She has a good looking great nephew whom she thinks to match with the visiting granddaughter, for the sake of her money, but GN is in love with another girl. Visitor helps out the romance. There’s a crazy young Brazilian millionaire in the story, a good looking sexy woman name Bibbina(GN’s mom I think) who has her eye on him, and a number of other wacky characters.
In the end the granddaughter helps GN to get the girl he really wants, but at the price of being booted out of EC’s home. She goes home to her grandfather, and when she tells him she didn’t really learn all those “female things” she thought she was supposed to learn, he tells her that wasn’t the point he’d meant. What he’d really sent her there for was to learn how to hold her own against people like EC, whom he **KNOWS ** was a snooty, conspiring,arrogant bitch.
It’s stupid that I can remember all the above, but not title or author. Any Dopers who can help me out? It really was a funny book.