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
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"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.
"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."
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.
"Loved this book!"
Great suspenseful story! I loved all the references to Dante, mythology, operas and quotes from literature and the descriptions of the art.
I could imagine being there!
My only complaint was that most of the characters were young and the narrator had an "old" voice.
"Love this author!"
Great story. Captivating plot and characters. Deftly told, detail revealed in tantalizing method. Interesting story construction.
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
"Ditched it three hours in"
I will stubbornly hang onto the worst audio books but I just could not finish this one. Beyond boring and the narration is awful. It took me a bit to understand that Jessica and Delia were actually women in their 20's as the narrator reads them like old women. Would have been hard to distinguish which character was speaking had it not been followed by phrases such "Delia said" or "Marjorie exclaimed" as they all sounded alike. While I love a languid, slow story that gently unfolds this is just unbearably tedious beyond words. At least I wasted only a half credit (one of those buy two for one credit sales)
"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☹️
"Both Picturesque and Complex"
We listened to this in audible format, as a family with 'tweens and young teens. Each evening after dinner, a different person would decide what we would do together for an hour or so, and to a person we were all secretly hopeful that another layer of the mystery of these four strangers' connection to their benefactor would be untangled. The performance by McKenzie was well done. The character development is vivid, if a bit overstated. The prose is intelligent and the description is evocative. The plot is satisfyingly complex, but a bit contrived. Overall, Edmondson has created a book that is the equivalent to an Impressionist painting: from too close and all you see is smudges of color, while at the right distance those colors form a beautiful and detailed image.
"Reminded me of Enchanted April"
Set in a beautiful Italian Villa, with a huge cast of characters. A little convoluted, but fun.
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.
"Another god book by Elizabeth Edmondson."
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.
Couldn''t wait for my installment each evening.. An interesting plot with a excellent reader.
"Charming vintage feel"
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.
"Cleverly woven story"
I enjoyed this from beginning to end. The characters were interesting and brought to life by an excellent narrator.
"Pleasant easy listening but not lightweight"
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.
"Full of people Mystery and Intrigue"
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.
"Quaint slow burner"
Nearly gave up near the start, but stuck with it and was quite compelled by the end. It was a little too quaint for my usual taste.
"Brilliantly tangled and absorbing relaxing read."
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
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