FULL DISCLOSURE: I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for writing an impartial review.
What makes historical fiction my favorite literary genre is the ability to learn more about history while disappearing into a good story. And THE ITALIAN VILLA offered both. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
Author Daniela Sacerdoti uses a structure I find many contemporary authors turn to these days — telling two distinct stories of two characters from different time periods and only fully explaining how the two stories connect at the very end of the book:
• The first story belongs to Callie, a self-reliant Texas waitress who grew up in foster care after her parents died, and is now trying to figure out what to do with her life.
• A second story is Elise’s. She is an ambitious woman living in a small Italian village who wants to become a doctor at a time when women simply did not do that. And she makes that commitment on the brink of World War II. Her story is told through her diary, which suddenly comes into Callie’s possession.
I won’t spoil the pleasure of discovering for yourselves how the lives of these two determined young women evolve — but I will say their stories are compelling and will keep you turning page after page. (I read the book in 2 days). There are long-buried family secrets to be uncovered. Plenty of romance, even for reluctant lovers. You’ll experience the slower pace of contemporary life in a small Italian village, where everyday gossip and interpersonal feuds sometimes originate in the history of families that have lived together for generations. And, of course, there’s also the death, random violence, and uncertainly of living during wartime.
My one criticism of the writing is a periodic tendency toward trite phrases. But I did not find that kept me from enjoying this novel.
More about Daniela Sacerdoti.