SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: THE ITALIAN GIRL BY LUCINDA RILEY

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). Sometimes I have too many books to do a full-length review. At other times, like now, tennis elbow and a torn tendon makes too much writing difficult. As such, I’ve decided to devote longer reviews to Australian authors until such time as my injury clears. 

As soon as I saw the cover of The Italian Girl, I was drawn to it. Why is the girl running? Is she running to something/someone, or away? I had to find out …

The Italian Girl

Rosanna Menici is just eleven years old when she meets Roberto Rossini, the man who will change her life forever. 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 union is haunted by powerful secrets 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 dazzling backdrop of evocative locations,The Italian Girl unfolds into a poignant and unforgettable tale of love, betrayal and self-discovery. From the international bestselling author of Hothouse Flower and The Midnight Rose comes The Italian Girl – first published as Aria under the name Lucinda Edmonds.

Here’s a direct quote:

“Oh principessa, at least you have made me smile. Of course I wish to make love to you, because you are so very beautiful. But it’s something more than that. It’s a very strange experience for a man who has not had these feelings before. Truthfully, I want to please you, I want your happiness, I care what you think of me. I was so very shocked when you slapped me, not from anger, but because I couldn’t bear to think of you hating me, that your opinion of me was so low.” (Roberto, in The Italian Girl)

Lucinda Riley originally wrote The Italian Girl seventeen years ago as Aria, and following a request from her publisher updated and re-edited the book for a fresh release. It’s a long book (more than 570 pages), but surprisingly fast to read. Themes of obsessive love are explored with a light touch, avoiding the darker aspects of obsession and betrayal, keeping the tone light and the focus on love and (mostly) happy endings. I found myself more interested in the secondary love story of Abi and Lucas (who was training to become a priest, so some wonderful romantic conflict there) and felt that the dialogue was  stilted at times. The Italian Girl will suit those looking a story with plenty of drama and glamour as befitting the opera/art world, providing escapism without digging too deep; since that was what I was after at the time, it hit the spot.

Available from good bookstores and Pan Macmillan (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Pan Macmillan.

Bookish treat: A cappuccino and biscotti … mmmm.