Marvellously atmospheric tale of strangers summoned to a grand but neglected villa on the Italian coast. Each of them has been named in a will, but nobody knows their benefactress....
Four very different people are named in a will. Delia, an opera singer robbed of her voice by illness; George, an idealistic scientist who cannot face what his skills have created; Marjorie, desperately poor and unable to dislodge her writer's block; and Lucius, ostensibly in control but whose personal life is in chaos. All are summoned to the Villa Dante, home of the late Beatrice Malaspina. But who was she?
While they wait to find out, the villa begins to work its seductive magic. With its faded frescoes, overgrown garden, and magnificent mediaeval tower, it is unlike anywhere they have been before.
Slowly four characters who have gone to great lengths to hide their troubles find that change - and even hope - is possible after all. But the mysterious Beatrice has a devastating secret to reveal that will affect them all....
A beautiful evocation of Italy in the aftermath of World War Two and the personal consequences of living through such a time and a celebration of humankind's ability to heal and learn to love again, this most absorbing novel will win Elizabeth Edmondson a host of new fans.
©2006 Elizabeth Edmondson (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. I thought it was going to be a 'chick-lit' for want of a better phrase to be honest.
It was a very interesting story with lots of unexpected twists and turns.
The narrator was absolutely fantastic, in fact probably one of the best I have listened to on Audible, and I have listened now to probably close to 60 books.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
Loved it...Delia's character was well read. The story had great depth and intregue. All the character personalities were brought to life by the narrator.
Lovely cast of characters drawn to a villa in Italy upon the death of it's owner. You just know they are all there to turn their lives around - but getting to know both them and the deceased owner remains constantly surprising. Well read with a genuinely 50's feel. I enjoyed it.
I was intrigued by the description of the story and decided to try it as I know that if I hated it Audible would let me return it. I am glad that I did. I read a variety of genres some heavy, a lot not and this book fitted right in. It is well-researched and you can learn things without thinking the author wants to educate you or show off her own knowledge. There are several strange twists but none that I didn't find plausible and I never guessed the ending. There are several characters but the narrator was so good I always knew who was speaking. Excellent and enjoyable.
Loved the plot the twists and turns. The narrator was excellent with her ability to bring the charecters to life. The author drew you into the story and the descriptive text made. feel as if I was there watching along side each of the characters.
An intriguing story with great insight into the characters thoughts and feelings brilliantly described. Gripping.
You could imagine yourself there and the characters were very rounded.
Yes and she is a very good narrator
"Everything I look for in a book"
I loved everything about this book: plot, characters, setting, time period, and references. It was completely engrossing and a wonderful mystery that kept me guessing through most of the book. I listened to half of it in the car and then my trip was over, so I bought the Kindle version and read the rest of it because I couldn't "put it down."
"Love this author!"
Great story. Captivating plot and characters. Deftly told, detail revealed in tantalizing method. Interesting story construction.
"A gentle mystery."
I was having a bad week. I listened to this book and, as corny as it sounds, it lifted my spirits. This book is not what I'd consider 'high art' or a classic but it's wonderfully evocative and a good escape. If I had to pick one word it would be 'soothing' and I'll be listening to it again.
This is a slow building story with the first 2/3 of the book fleshing out the characters, their backstories and the villa itself. The main characters are very likable, even the often irritating Marjorie, and you really get a sense of their burdens and how the villa and its inhabitants help them 'come alive' again. The visitors are mostly unlikable and come off as shallow and selfish, which is a nice contrast to the main players. However, on getting to know them a little better as the story unfolds they're actually OK (Theo & Felicity)... except Richie; he's a jerk. The last 1/3 has the reveals coming thick and fast (but it's not hard to guess them). Relationships are revealed, mended, ended and cemented and everything is wrapped up nicely. I came away from this book feeling a lighter and happier.
Excellent narration. With so many characters, it would be easy for the listener to become confused but Nicolette McKenzie has given them each a unique voice. I think I'll try one of the other Elizabeth Edmondson books she's narrated, maybe Villa on the Riviera.
"Confusion at the Villa!"
I was disappointed in the story content. Too many characters and not a believable plot. The narrators were ok,however, it was too lengthy to keep them all straight. Sorry☹️
The mystery was unique and intriguing but, I didn't appreciate the over-emphasis on sex and sexual relations with in the story.
Nicolette did a fantastic job reading this story.
Not riveting. I found The first 6 hours quite boring with no significant plot to speak of. The mystery unravels in the last hour; soap-operesque. Good if you'd like a stress-less , non-violent mystery that won't get your heart pulsating before bed
I really injoyed the story. It started off slow but overall I see why!
"Interesting plot hook, but..."
It depends; it is a pleasant enough diversion for someone who likes ensemble casts, a bit of mystery & is happy to while away time without more. The book, however, becomes rather tedious as the initially clever plot device is spooled out for far too long without any meaningful character development or personal insight beyond the typically mundane to justify such prolonged stringing. The secrets that haunt the characters have the feel of the hackneyed and worn and oft-written about them. About 2/3 of the way through, one finds oneself exclaiming; "Enough already! I know all I would ever want to know about these people. I have no interest any longer in what happens to them.Just wrap this up." Further, the author is fairly heavy handed (and often without accuracy) in flogging a particular political bent, which becomes increasingly apparent and annoying given the tedium of the stretched story line. For example, one character states as fact that happiness is written into the U.S. constitution. The fallacy, all too common even among those who consider themselves educated, is routinely promulgated in interviews, newspapers, on the internet, on so-called news shows, among pundits and talking heads and almost always without challenge as is the case in this book and has wreaked nearly irretrievable civic damage by embedding in the common conscience the rightness of a particular particular view of the role of government. (The phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is found in the Declaration of Independence. While that is an important document by which the United States was declared to be its own sovereign it has absolutely nothing to do with the framework or role of government.That is the purview of the Constitution, which limits government so citizens remain, by and large, free of government direction, oversight and structure. Any who promulgate the utterly erroneously constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness promote an unlimited government completely antithetical to the foundation of the US. Were there such a constitutional right, it would be incumbent on government to do all it could to enable all to pursue happiness. Any aggrieved person would have a constitutional right to demand government step in; that is a recipe for an ever-expanding list of laws, regulations, requirements with the accompanying, crippling, enormous government budget. That kind of government is precisely what the Constitution tried to ensure could not exist.) Now, with the civics lesson over, I'll return to the book. I suppose it is not surprising that an author who devises such a manipulative and secretive (albeit, ultimately,benevolent) testator to sort out several lives would have no issue with controlling intervention of the governmental sort. And, while the initial concept is clever, the threads that bind the characters together when finally revealed are so preposterous one wonders why one persisted to narration's end.
Probably not now that I have been through the book, however, I would rather have seen a movie than plowed through this audio book had that been an option. After all, a relatively good script writer could easily shorten this into a two hour movie, which is about all that is necessary for this yarn. The setting, beautiful and transporting, could be the most compelling of the characters and propel the movie into a couple hours of pleasant diversion.
"surprising twists and turns but beautiful weaving."
the story is not fast paced but takes the reader on an amazing journey of six degrees of separation between four unique individuals. a nice read.
At least for me but then became an interesting story with great personalities and a surprising ending
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