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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By LisaG on 08-19-16
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.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
By A. Williams on 12-11-15
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."
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Antonia on 05-02-17
Beautiful; a love song to life.
Would you listen to Villa in Italy again? Why?
This is a book that will stay with me whether or not I listen again. What makes this story beautiful to me is a deep sense of connection to people and place as it explores who (and what) may touch and shape a life. Set after WW11, the book feels like a love song to living, to friendship, healing and what is beautiful in the world. It is expertly narrated, with every character given their own distinct voice.
A group of very different people gather, beneficiaries to a woman they know nothing about who appears to know everything about them. This mysterious woman has left a request that they live for 33 days in her remote Italian Villa before they find out what they are each to be left. Each of them needs space and time to heal after personal loss or heartache and the discoveries they make about their invisible hostess, each other and themselves redirects each of their lives. They begin to realise that the time given to them may be more precious than the outcome and I think this reflects the nature of the book itself; the journey being just as important as the mysteries at the heart of it.
The characters are well drawn and the sensory delights of the villa and the landscape is well captured. Though the story explores some dark places and difficult emotions it does so with grace and a lightness of touch that left me feeling uplifted and hopeful. This is probably not a book for people who want quick resolutions. The reader, like the characters, must spend time at the villa as the intricate plot unfolds and friendship and romance takes root. I think many will find this a great book to get lost in while on holiday or taking needed time for yourself.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By ddodson on 02-24-16
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.
21 of 23 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lee Mackie on 07-14-17
A wonderful story Vivid and alive with mystery, intrigue and wonderful overtures to the past and present in music, poetry and literature intertwined within an interesting storyline. The Audio was very well done the performance brilliant and brought the work to life. A great listen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Darryl Sim on 05-18-18
A very English parlour mystery tale.
I could picture this as a play on west end. very british period (1950s) piece. Once you get past that it is an interesting story. Many threads of the story intertwine and gradually reveal themselves until all resolved in the end.