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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Italy in Books – Reading Challenge – April




  • 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’.


Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

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's pictureElizabeth Edmondson

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.

Fantastic Fiction - Elizabeth Edmondson

Harper Collins Author Profile



I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog LindyLouMac's Book Reviews


  1. sounds great, although these boys keep me too busy to read these days...but I have told myself I WILL take time to read again in the near future!

  2. Hi Linda, I remember reading this book a few years ago and enjoyed it very much.
    Jackie in Surrey.

  3. Sounds like a good book, and I was also interested to read that you found it in an Oxfam shop.

  4. I will add it to my list - thanks!

  5. Oooh! That sounds so nice! I'll add it to my list and see if I can find it on Amazon. Though I've been avoiding Amazon as I'm completely broke and Amazon is a huge addiction!

  6. I love travel books and also enjoy a good mystery now and then. This book sounds like a fun read!

  7. I read this book last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously with my love of Italy, I was drawn to it as soon as I saw it advertised on Amazon!

  8. Thanks for the reading tip. I'll add this to my list of books to read. :)

  9. Will take a look as I adore books and love to read. Charmaine

  10. I am a first time visitor to your lovely blog - I look forward to reading more about your life in Italy. The book sounds interesting - I'll check in my local library to see if they have it on their shelves.
    Have a safe and enjoyable week-end.
    "Adelaide and Beyond"

  11. Linda...another compelling review!!

  12. Thanks for this interesting review.

    All the best, Boonie

  13. It is odd how you read all the books about Italy while we find all the books about France ;-) Diane

  14. Thank you for the review – I'd not heard of this book either but you describe it so well – intriguing but without giving away the mystery. Interesting that she was born in Chile, where my husband is from. Thank you for the recommendation! – g

  15. This sounds an interesting read, I'll have to check if it's in our local library.


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