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Welcome to News From Italy, my blog about our Italian Adventure. Although this blog has now ceased publication I will be continuing to blog and I am sincerely hoping that my many followers here will move with me to Travel Tales blog to follow my next adventures wherever they may take me. The links to my other blogs are:-

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Italy in Books - Reading Challenge - February


Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

A Party in San NiccoloPhotobucket

The February post with a list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. February Reviews

This is a thriller with a realistic Italian background, although as first published in 2003 there are a couple of points that remove it from the 21C and the Italy that we know. The lira is no longer the currency and the wave of immigrants, although still a big problem, as I expect many of you reading this are aware, will often be of different  nationalities to those featured.  The depth of description of the ex-pat community in Florence reminds me in some ways of A Room With A View, although this is much more detailed and not set in 1908 but modern days. The author clearly knows and loves Florence and is not afraid to write about the drugs, corruption and prostitution that are part of the city and I suppose most big cities in the world these days. As far as I understand though Florence is not generally a dangerous place, just maybe a bit rough around the edges. She also describes beautifully the countryside outside Florence, in Tuscany and the Maremma, including Thermal Springs to be found in the countryside that I have enjoyed bathing in myself if not the particular ones described.

A week in the springtime in Florence, what could be a better way for Gina Donovan to unwind from the pressures of family life while visiting an old friend from university. Gina’s holiday turns out to be not at all the week of relaxation that she was anticipating as through her we meet the motley cast of characters that form part of the expat community. The main ones are Jane her university friend, who runs a cookery school, her successful architect husband Niccolo who has English and Italian parentage plus his daughter Beatrice. The aristocratic Frances a widow in her seventies is a character central to the story as is her Birthday party that is planned for the end of the week. Frank is the journalist within the community, although not a terribly successful one and young Ned, Beatrice’s boyfriend.

The plot is complex with many other characters besides the few I have mentioned. Within the first few pages we learn of the two murders but it is only the second body that is discovered immediately. Before the end of the week not only death but love,memories and secrets will all have intruded on Gina’s time in Italy. I think that is enough information to have tempted you if you like the sound of a murder mystery in an Italian setting. There is enough suspense skilfully built into the story that kept me turning the pages to make this a very quick and entertaining read.


Christobel Kent

A Party in San Niccolo was Christobel Kent’s first published novel and since then she has written and published four more novels set in Florence. They all feature a Florentine private investigator Sandro Cellini that she created and has written this series around. These titles may well be of interest to those of you taking part in the Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

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If you would like to read my earlier book reviews they can all be found on my other blog LindyLouMac's Book Reviews


  1. LLM - I just had to share this with you.
    Its old people having lots of bike fun in Toscano.


    Hope it works for you

  2. I do love a good murder mystery, Linda! :-) I will have to check this out for sure. :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing this book, and when you wrote in your comment, Homemaker, I could slap my head, that was the one I forgot to mention! I love this word much better, thanks for reminding me, hope you have a good evening!

  4. Ciao! I wish I could take part in this Italian reading challenge. Unfortunately I don't have money right now to buy the books & I don't think my local library has them.Sounds like an interesting book sort of like an Italian version of Agatha Christie (which is an American novel). Though I find it hard to get into mystery books because I sometimes find them confusing with the twists & turns in the plots. I really do think mysteries are interesting to read & I should get more into them.

  5. Interesting - was the lira still around in 2003? I sort of thought the euro was older than that.

  6. Sounds like one I would enjoy. A good mystery with a well-developed setting. The fact that it's someplace I'll probably only visit through books is a plus, too.

  7. RamblingTart@ If you do please let me know what you think.

    Alessandra@ You may take part with any book set in Italy, surely you will be able to find something in your library if you would like to join us? By the way Agatha Christie was a British novelist!

    carolsnotebook@ You never know you may get to Italy one day.

  8. I am trying to visit everyone today..computer is still giving me grief..Son-in-law is a computer programmer and I am waiting for his visit..took everything off and want to get the disc to clean it out..Anyway, I am visiting..Now for the book..I would probably not sleep for a few nights after reading it..haha..Kids always tease me..I somehow get so deep in the books, I live them..Everyone gets a laugh, because I am a ninny..Yep, I admit it..but this sure does sound like a good read..
    Have missed our visits..but as long as I can get around, I shall return..xoxoRosebud/Carolyn

  9. Sounds interesting though I don't usually read thrillers. Good review.

  10. What a great reading list of books..I'll have to check it out. The Summer House sparks my interest!

  11. This sounds like a good book. I love to read, but I seem to be having trouble staying awake to do so...winter blahs I guess.

  12. Sounds interesting!! I love the name Christobel!

  13. I'm thinking about participating in the challenge...now I just wonder if I'll find the time! No doubt the coming spring (it has to be nicer than what we've been experiencing here in NY!) will mean lots of work outside in the gardens, not to mention the work of unpacking and settling back in after six months away. But it IS a year-long challenge, so I'll have time. This book, and author, sounds like something I might like to read. Did you get the book from amazon UK? Enjoying your blog and will link to it...thanks for your supportive comment on mine. Where in Lazio are you? We're between Frosinone and Sora...

  14. Ooprs...just saw you're in Viterbo! Not too far away! I love the Peony Gardens near you and would love to visit the hot springs in Viterbo too. Maybe soon!

  15. Dona@ I have put this title on Bookmooch if you are interested?

    Welshcakes@ I doubt I would have ever read it if it had not been set in Italy, but I am glad I did!

    Icy BC@ Do let me know if you do read any of her novels, as I would be interested to hear what you think.

    Diane@ I hope you do join in. I think I picked up my copy in a charity shop in the UK, have now put it up for offer on Bookmooch.

  16. I really enjoyed that book, Now I'll try and hunt down the others...just off to check out your other blog!

  17. Charlie@ Great to see you here! I hope to see you over on the book blog then. I am looking forward to reading more of her books and have got hold of one more already.


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