Woo hoo! I will soon be off on my holidays, living la dolce vita. I can’t wait! Being a massive bookworm my current knowledge of Italy comes exclusively from books, so I thought it would be apt to share some of my favourites with you.
“Blood and Beauty” by Sarah Dunant.
Sarah Dunant is a lecturer in Renaissance studies at Washington University. Her previous books include her Renaissance trilogy, each set from the view point of strong women in a changing world. This novel however is about the Borgia family. Starting with a scheming Rodrigo Borgia making alliances in the papal conclave, it recounts the history of a fascinating, dangerous family. Passionate and richly described historical fiction.
“The Shape of Water” by Andrea Camilleri.
This is the first of Camilleri’s novels about Inspector Salvo Montalbano set in Sicily. Originally written in Italian this book was translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli. When an influential contractor is found dead in compromising circumstances our honest inspector suspects foul play. Seafood, sleuthing and a good deal of Sicilian slang tie together to produce a fun story.
“An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth.
Michael is a violinist who, in a chance meeting, is reacquainted with Julia, the love of his life. This is the story of their love and the barriers between them. Set across London, Vienna and Venice I read this book in the early 2000’s and it has stuck with me ever since. Its beautiful language and description helped me fall in love with Venice despite never having set foot there.
“Miss Garnet’s Angel” by Salley Vickers.
Miss Julia Garnet’s orderly life is turned upside down when her flat mate and friend of 30 years dies. She decides to make a change and moves to Venice for six months. Whilst there she explores the beauty of the city and becomes obsessed with the Apocryphal tale of Tobias and the archangel Raphael. A touching story.
“A Room With a View” by EM Forster.
Lucy Honeychurch is on a tour of Italy with her cousin and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett when she meets George Emerson. Confused by her feelings for him she rejects his advances settling instead for the pretentious Cyril Vyse. Italy is symbolic of passion and independence compared to England’s stiff upper lip in this progressive, classic love story.