- Paperback: 426 pages
- Genre: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper Collins 2006
- Source: Purchased Oxfam Bookshop in UK
- Review Quote: "Deeply satisfying! rich and compelling." -Oxford Times
- A Favourite Quote:‘the Italian winter is Italy’s best kept secret’.
The April post with a list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. April Reviews
Prior to picking up this book in an Oxfam Bookshop in the UK I had not even heard of this author. I was attracted to the title because of the Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011 that I had heard about early in December for which it seemed a perfect candidate.
It certainly was and I thoroughly enjoyed this easy to read and very atmospheric novel set in a grand but neglected villa on the northern Italian coastline of Liguria in the nineteen fifties.
The protagonists are four complete strangers all named in the will of the now deceased Beatrice Malaspina, owner of the Villa Dante where they are summoned to accept their unknown inheritance in a mysterious fashion. The interaction between them as they slowly learn why they are at the villa makes for I thought an interesting read, not your normal mystery story, but certainly still very mysterious.
George an atomic scientist at Cambridge University, who hates the monster his skills have created. Delia an opera singer who is having problems with her voice. Marjorie a poor and struggling detective novelist with writer’s block and finally Lucius an American banker whose life appears perfect but is in fact in chaos make for an odd group of benefactors. While they wait to learn why they have all been named in their unknown benefactresses will the villa with its overgrown garden, mediaeval tower and faded frescoes starts to have a calming affect on them all. All four of them have family secrets and sadness's to hide but somehow they start to slowly heal and learn to love again as they unravel the mysteries they find themselves presented with.
If you enjoy novels with family secrets, family history and lots of evocative description you will I think enjoy this, even more so if you love Italy.
Elizabeth Edmondson was born in Chile, educated in Calcutta and London before going to Oxford University. Married to an art historian and with two children she now divides her time between Oxford and the countryside north of Rome.
Biographical Information is courtesy of the following websites and from the paperback itself.
I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog