Monday, January 31, 2011

Last Train From Liguria by Christine Dwyer Hickey


        Italy in Books – Reading Challenge – January

            Last Train from Liguria

This is the title I have chosen for my first book to read for the Italy in Books Reading Challenge, where over the year, month by month I intend to read a book fiction or non-fiction set in Italy, with a total of twelve in all. They will probably not be the obvious choices that come to mind as because of my love for the country I have already read a considerable number of books set here over the years.


The challenge is being  hosted  by Brighton Blogger of Book After Book details of the challenge can be found on her blog in the post.  Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

The January post with a list of books that people are reading has already been posted. January Reviews and I will also be posting reviews from this challenge on News From Italy

I have never read anything by this author before so I have no comparisons to make with previous novels. All I knew was that Christine Dwyer-Hickey is an award winning Irish novelist. While I found this narrative interesting taking us back and forth between London, Dublin and Italy in the nineteen thirties and mid nineteen nineties it neither excited me nor bored me. In fact leaving me feeling rather indifferent about this well written novel. I am disappointed and feel a little guilty admitting this, but there is no point in pretending otherwise. A decent read that was absorbing but nothing particular really drew me in.

The main setting of the story is fascist era Italy where the female protagonist Bella Stuart takes a position as tutor to Alec the son of the aristocratic Lami family. His mother has little time for him and Alec’s life revolves around Bella and his music teacher Edward King. The reader has already learnt much about the latters past in the opening chapter of the novel, a dark secret he keeps to himself in Italy. When the story moves to the present times it is to meet Anna a young woman of Italian descent and gradually connections with the past are uncovered.

It is a vivid picture of Italy during the rise of fascism that the author gives us with a very atmospheric sense of place. A novel not just about the historical period it is set in but a love story of perception and regret.

Christine Dwyer-Hickey


I will be interested to see if any other participants in the  Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011 choose this title and if so what they make of it.  My copy is at the moment available to anyone in Europe taking part in the challenge as I am willing to mail it to them. In fact I would like to send this book  travelling via Bookcrossing  to any number of you that may like to read it.


  1. I saw this book several times in bookshops and it made me curious. It's a shame that it didn't make a great impression on you. I will let you know what I think if I get a chance to read it.

  2. BrightonBlogger@ I would love to send this to you, let me know.

  3. Something about this book cover screams "Pick me up-you'll like it".. I'll watch out for this one at the library.

  4. Glad to read your review on this book. I have the book but I think I will put it on my maybe pile. Thanks.

  5. Bedazzled@ Absolutely I have sent you a message about this.

    BookQuoter@ If maybe becomes yes do let me know your thoughts!

  6. I thought some of her prose was lovely but I couldn't stand the lack of verbs in her 'sentences' and I don't know if it's her style or poor editing; but it was too irritating for me to concentrate on the story. It was also long-winded and took too long to get to the point. I would have enjoyed it otherwise. I've blogged it on (Just finished Rose Tremain's Tresspass - compulsive reading, couldn't put it down.)

  7. Diane@ Thankyou for calling by introducing yourself and letting us know your thoughts.I will pop over and read your review.

  8. Hi Lindy,
    I'm so glad you posted about this challenge. I collect and read Italian historical fiction, so I'm hopping right over to the site to check the challenge out. I'm checking out this book too. It looks great.

  9. History and Women@ If I had know this I would have let you know earlier, delighted you are joining us. I have left a message on one of your blogs about this title if you are interested in reading.

  10. This looks interesting... I've been to Sestri Levante and Genoa and I loved it and wouldn't mind visiting again. :)

  11. Buckeroomama@ Until then revisit Italy through the pages of this book then.


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