3 Dec 2015


"I've always wanted to belong to a book club and was thrilled when the opportunity presented itself just over a year ago.  They were just getting started at the time (I only missed out on the first book ) and it's grown to a group of sixteen people - all women, all ages, and from all walks in life.   We meet once a month with the hostess selecting the book and the meeting place and it always consists of wonderful food and fellowship and, of course, a lively discussion of the chosen book (none of which has been a "dud", in my opinion).  It's been a great way to deepen old friendships, make some new friends, and often step out of my "reading comfort zone"."  
- Kelly.

Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? Who would have thought I'd be 'joining' my good blogger buddy and friend Kelly in Arkansas as she meets with her fellow readers?

Due to international times zones whilst it will be 6.30 pm on the third of December their time when they meet, given that we are six hours ahead means it will be 12.30 am on the fourth of December here in the UK .... I think!

Anyway, hello ladies, here's my thoughts on your November read ....


BACK COVER BLURB: An irresistible invitation to a magical place ...

Four strangers are summoned to the Villa Dante, a beautiful but abandoned house above the Ligurian coast. Each has been named in the will of the intriguing Beatrice Malaspina, but not one of them knows who she is or what the connection might be: Delia, an opera singer robbed of her voice; George, an atom scientist unable to face what his skills have created; Marrjorie, a detective novelist with writer's block; and Lucius, a Boston banker whose personal life is in chaos.

As they wait to find out why they're all there, the villa begins its seductive magic. Amongst the faded frescoes, overgrown garden and magnificent mediaeval tower, four determined characters slowly begin to change - the sorrow of their wartime experiences growing into hope. But the mysterious Beatrice has a devastating secret to reveal that will affect them all ...

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: The package from the lawyers arrived early one foggy April morning.

MEMORABLE RANDOM MOMENT. Apologies the post-it note indicating my Memorable Moment seems to have fallen out of the book so instead I'll share a Random Moment selected by my opening the book at a random page. {Page 271}: Eyes looked out at them, writhing figures, floating aimless shapes, burning fires. The figures had a picturesque, formal quality, and in and around them planes fell blazing out of the sky, houses burned, gaunt and hungry faces gazed hopelessly through brutal barbed-wire barriers. Delia felt as though she had been punched in the stomach as the dreadful images seemed to surround and enclose her within them.

Lucius's voice, wary and alarmed, came out of the gloom. "It's a collage."

"It's Hell," said Marjorie.

SOURCE: A large print, hard back copy published by Isis Publishing Ltd, borrowed from the library.

MY THOUGHTS: Beginning when a group of strangers, the beneficiaries of a will of a woman none of them know, are summoned to the Villa Dante. It was only after a slow, what I felt was a painfully slow start, the individuals having arrived at the villa, that I felt the story truly found its pace in a book that if you
take it at face value and don't dwell too much on the numerous coincidences you might just find passes away the hours enjoyably enough.

A novel with a more promising plot than characters who for the most part I felt stereotypical despite the author reassuring us 'Mrs Wolfson was no one's idea of a typical American grandmother'. With better executed characters than dialogue which at best I found rather stilted and, at worst, well, unconvincing. If I had to sum up my thoughts on The Villa In Italy in one word that one word would probably be .... intriguing. 

Intriguing and satisfyingly mysterious as thankfully for us it wasn't quite so simple as the characters travelling to Italy, hearing the reading of the last will and testament of what was essentially a total stranger - a stranger who to all intents and purposes dominated the story from beyond the ground - before going home again.

Essentially pure escapism that I suspect might particularly be enjoyed by fans of the late Agatha Christie such was the style of the writing.


Kelly said...

Indeed - pure escapism. I'm sorry your first book with us wasn't one you loved. I still think you should go back and read some of the others we've selected. We actually shared a few of the same opinions on this and I will have my review posted tomorrow (Friday).

Thanks for joining in and I will let you know the next selection!

Brandi Kosiner said...

Good to hear that it was a good read and intriguing

Sherry Ellis said...

How fun to have a book club with people from all over the world! (I can imagine the time zones would be a bit of a challenge.)

So many books, so little time said...

How nice to be part of a book club. I am part of a few online which have had wee mini meets but that is all so far.

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Trac~ said...

That's too cool that you are part of a book club like that with people from all over the world! :) Funny, but I was trying to see if I knew who Kelly was since she too is from Arkansas, but I didn't have any luck. Rats. Oh well - Thanks for sharing the review of the book. xo

Literary Feline said...

I love the concept of the book club. How fun! This sounds like a book I might like, even if you didn't love it.

Suko said...

Tracy, (of course) I'm glad that you enjoyed this book in your international book club! Your substitution of the "Random Moment" is brilliant.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Sounds ... intriguing, lol. I'm not sure if I'll pick this up. It certainly sounds fun joining a book club. I haven't joined one yet (because I'm quite slow in reading and I jump between children's and adult's fiction ~ wonder if there's a club for that!).

Brian Joseph said...

The plot does sound veery common. With that, I think that this kind of story still has a lot of power to entertain.

I will be recommending this one to my wife, zI think that she would like it.

Lily B said...

so it sounds like you were rewarded after plowing through the slow ending

Gina R said...

How cool! Loving that you were able to "make" the meeting despite the miles and that the book turned out not so bad in the end. ^-^