Callie, a lonely small-town waitress, is still reeling from the discovery that she’s adopted when she arrives in Montevino, Italy in search of answers – the keys to the stunning hillside villa she has just inherited clutched tightly in her hand. Inside the rusted gates, and through a large wooden front door dripping with sun-kissed flowers, Callie can’t decide if she’s more astonished by her new home or her first encounter with the mysterious young groundskeeper, Tommaso.
Wandering the villa barefoot at night, Callie finds a diary belonging to a woman named Elisa, wrapped in faded blue ribbon and hidden in her birthmother’s antique wardrobe. Page by page, Callie is swept away by its story of love, passion, heartbreak and betrayal as she reads how Elisa married her childhood sweetheart in secret before fleeing to the woods to join the resistance. They vowed to find each other again when the war was over, but history had other plans.
Callie is certain that her and Elisa’s lives are somehow connected, and that the truth about her family is hidden somewhere within the diary’s crinkled yellow pages. It gives her the courage to start asking questions around the close-knit village until, at long last, she feels her closed-off heart begin to open. Perhaps even enough to let someone in…
But when a devastating betrayal in the final pages of the diary unlocks a heart-breaking secret about who Callie’s mother really is, the chance for a new life shatters in front of her. Can she persuade the locals to forgive her past and accept the truth about her identity?
This unforgettable story of love, loss and secrets by the author of million-copy Amazon No 1. bestseller, Watch Over Me, is perfect for anyone who loves Fiona Valpy, Lily Graham, or The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.
Readers adore The Italian Villa:
‘Mesmerising! I was totally hooked… absolutely perfect and just flowed endlessly with such ease. I really can't praise this OUTSTANDING book enough!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
‘I fell in love with this book! It was beautiful and captivating from start to finish. I loved Callie right from the beginning, she is such a relatable character. You laughed with her and cried for her throughout… Absolutely loved this entire book!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
‘From the moment I opened this book I was hooked. This is a beautifully written story with characters that tug at your heartstrings from the second they’re introduced. You can’t help but fall in love with them and the tiny village in Italy where it takes place… you feel as though you’re really there... I devoured this book in no time… you can’t wait to turn the page to find out what happens next...which is why I finished this book at 3 in the morning!... I was so enthralled from the very first page!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
‘I really loved it… makes you want to curl up in a chair with a warm drink and read this slowly. I found myself not wanting to devour this, but to savour every page. It's emotional and empowering and the characters fill your mind completely long after you have finished the story.’ Crossroad Reviews
‘Truly amazing. The story had many heart-warming moments and a few heart-wrenching...I was completely charmed and transported…You will be as well if you choose to read it. So read it!’ One Page At A Time, 5 stars
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very enjoyable read.
The Italian Villa is a very interesting read, telling two stories. In the present, orphan Callie goes to Italy to claim an inheritance from a woman she’s never heard of. Among the box of papers given her by the lawyer is a diary by someone who was caught up in the horror of Italy during WWII. Why was Callie given this diary? What is her connection to Elise? And why is Callie’s Italian aunt so hostile? There are many secrets to be revealed and the author does a good job at keeping readers interested in both stories. This is a well written book, poignant, heartbreaking and wonderfully uplifting by the time the last page is complete. I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
A Tale of Two Determined Women, Two Generations Apart
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 gave me both.
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 overall.