Review – The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley

By | August 4, 2014

Nothing sings as sweetly as love, or burns quite like betrayal

Rosanna Menici is just a girl when she meets Roberto Rossini, the man who will change her life. In the years to come, their destinies are bound together by their extraordinary talents as opera singers and by their enduring but obsessive love for each other – a love that will ultimately affect the lives of all those closest to them. For, as Rosanna slowly discovers, their unison is haunted by irreversible events from the past.

Rosanna’s journey takes her from humble beginnings in the back streets of Naples to the glittering stages of the world’s most prestigious opera houses. Set against a memorable backdrop of Lucinda Riley’s trademark evocative locations, The Italian Girl unfolds into a poignant and unforgettable tale of love, betrayal and self-discovery.

Lucinda Riley… she really can’t put a foot wrong for me.  From Hothouse Flower through The Girl on the Cliff and The Light Behind The Window, then the sublime The Midnight Rose.

But I’ll admit it, I slightly wrong footed when I realised that this one was a previously released book – Aria, issued under the name of Lucinda Edmonds – extensively re-written.  But I really shouldn’t have worried – this book was simply wonderful, totally all-consuming while I was reading (it’s a hefty 576 pages, so it took a few days!), one of those books that takes over your life to such a degree that when you emerge at the other end you feel as if you’ve lived every moment with people you really don’t want to leave behind.

This is one of those stories that you just know – from the first few pages – is going to be quite perfect.  We start with Rosanna as a little girl, working as a drudge in her parents’ Naples cafe, singing for an audience including rising opera star Roberto Rossini. With the help of her brother Luca, she trains with a singing teacher, studies at La Scala and then moves onto the operatic stages of the world. Of course, this is a wonderful love story too – you hope beyond hope that things will work out for Roberto and Rosanna, and your heart breaks when things inevitably go wrong along the way. I also loved the story of Luca, who manages to break away too and makes his own difficult choices – and has his own experience of love.  There’s also an excellent thread through the story about the trade in stolen antiquities, and a vast cast of well drawn supporting characters and some real boo-hiss baddies.

I loved every beautifully written page.  If you have room in your holiday suitcase for this one – and some surplus weight allowance – it would be quite perfect for your sun lounger.  Maybe with a little opera playing on your iPod?  Another simply wonderful read from Lucinda Riley.

The Italian Girl was published by Pan Macmillan on 3 July, and is available in a range of formats.  My thanks to the publishers and the author for my reading copy. 

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first book aged 24. Her novel Hothouse Flower (also called The Orchid House) was selected for the UK’s Richard and Judy Bookclub in 2011 and went on to sell over 2 million copies worldwide and become a New York Times Bestseller. Her second novel, The Girl on the Cliff, also made it onto The New York Times Bestseller list, in its first week, and The Light Behind the Window (also called The Lavender Garden) topped the German bestseller list for nine weeks. The Midnight Rose was published in most markets of the world in early 2014.

Her latest novel, The Italian Girl, was originally written and published as ‘Aria’ in 1996 under her old pen name, Lucinda Edmonds, and she has since updated and re-edited the novel.

Lucinda’s books are translated into 25 languages and published in 36 countries. She lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and in the South of France.

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