This is a love story that is beautifully written. I was able to imagine myself in Tuscany and in Devon, living alongside the characters as I watched the story unfold.
The prologue sets the scene. In Tuscany, Floriana and Dante meet. Floriana is a 10 year old whose mother has run away with her younger brother and left her with her alcoholic father. Dante is a few years older, the son of a high profile industrialist who may have connections with the Mafia.
We’re then taken to Devon in 2009 where hotel owner Marina and husband Grey are trying desperately to bring in money to save the hotel from being taken over. Grey’s twenty-three year old daughter from his previous marriage, Clementine, has never accepted Marina. His son Jake is the Manager of the hotel.
From the moment Rafa (artist-in-residence) arrives, changes start to happen. Rafa is a very intense and intuitive man. I think he is the hero we would all like to have in our lives!
In Tuscany we find out how class distinctions rule the characters lives and in Devon we find out more about Marina and her emotional outbursts. Eventually the two worlds come together and all the lose ends are tied up beautifully.
Until near the end, we never know for sure the link between Tuscany and Devon. At times I was sure I had the correct connection but then a hint would be dropped that would take me away from that. Very clever.
In Devon, there are references in the story of a burglar, nicknamed Baffles, who leaves a thank you note in place of the possessions that are taken. At one point there is a mistaken identity and the police interrupt a scene that was hilarious – I’m still laughing as I type. I have to admit to being surprised when we eventually do find out the burglars identity, although in retrospect it fits perfectly!
At one point in the story we leave Tuscany with stray dog Dead-Night as the last ‘picture’ we see and we are brought back to Devon with the stray dog Biscuit jumping on Rafa to wake him up. I loved that.
The writing is beautiful. My poetic heart loved lines like ‘The stars were clearer than ever before, twinkling like shiny new memories ……………’.
There was only in one part where I was disappointed. Florania’s response to knowing a family member had died was to say ‘I keep all the press cuttings about your family ………..’ but she asks if he married. If she looked out for and kept all the press cuttings then she would have known the answer…………….
This is a fabulous story of family relationships, friendships and love on many levels that kept me gripped until the end. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried.
I would like to thank Simon & Schuster UK for sending me an uncorrected proof copy to review.