Cristiano is thirteen. Home life is far from perfect. When his father and two friends come up with a plan to rob a bank, Cristiano sees the chance of a better life. As a tremendous storm brews that night, Cristiano will have to put childhood behind him once and for all, and the perfect crime will have shocking consequences.
E. M. Forster - A Room with a View
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, eccentric Mr Emerson and. most of all, his passionate son George. Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Victorian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse, until she finally learns to follow the power of her own heart. A Room with a View was brought to life in a film starring Helena Bonham Carter.
Maeve Binchy - Evening Class
The Italian evening class at Mountainview School is like hundreds of others starting up all over the city. But this one has its own special quality - as the focus for the varied hopes and dreams of teachers and students alike. And by the time the group sets off on the end-of-course trip to Italy, a surprising number of those hopes and dreams have come true - in sone odd and unexpected ways...
Pamela Schoenewaldt - Swimming in the Moon
From the author of When We Were Strangers comes a uniquely American story - a tale of deep, shifting ties between a determined daughter and her gifted, wounded mother in the early 1900s, framed by bitter union strikes, the thrill of vaudeville and a young woman's struggle to find her place Lucia D'Angelo's voice is nothing like her mother's. She's no nightingale with the gorgeous tones, tender and passionate, peaking and plummeting as dramatically as her moods. Yet in the rough world she's chosen, Lucia's words may truly change lives. In 1904, fourteen-year-old Lucia and her young mother Teresa are servants in a count's lush villa on the Bay of Naples. Between scrubbing floors and polishing silver, Teresa soothes the unhappy countess with song until one morning's calamity hurls mother and daughter to America, exchanging their gilded cage for icy winds off Lake Erie and Cleveland's taut immigrant neighborhoods. Lucia blossoms and Teresa wins fleeting fame on the tawdry stage of vaudeville until old demons threaten their new life. In factories and workhouses, Lucia finds her own stage, giving voice to those who have given her a home. As roles reverse, mother and daughter reshape their fierce and primal bond.
Mark Mills - The Savage Garden
A beautiful Tuscan villa, a mysterious garden, two hidden murders - one from the 16th century, one from the twentieth - and a family driven by dark secrets, combine in this evocative, intriguing mystery set in post-War Italy. In 1958, Adam Strickland, a young Cambridge scholar, travels to the Villa Docci in Tuscany to study a sixteenth-century garden. Designed and laid out by a grieving husband to the memory of his dead wife, it is a mysterious world of statues, grottoes, meandering rills and classical inscriptions. But tragedy has hit the Docci family more recently. The German occupation during World War 2 had a devastating impact on them, and the tensions between collaborators and partisans were played out within their own tight circle. Adam is fascinated by the Doccis and increasingly aware that there are dangerous secrets hidden within the family domain. The garden itself starts to exercise a powerful influence over his imagination, its iconography seeming to point to some deeper, darker truth than was first apparent. And what really lay behind a killing at the villa towards the end of the war? Past and present, love and intrigue, intertwine in an evocative mystery which vividly captures the experience of an innocent abroad in the uncertain world of post-War Italy.
Marina Fiorato - The Glassblower of Murano
Venice, 1681. Glassblowing is the lifeblood of the Republic, and Venetian mirrors are more precious than gold. Jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten, the glassblowers of Murano are virtually imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. But the greatest of the artists, Corradino Manin, sells his methods and his soul to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, to protect his secret daughter. In the present day his descendant, Leonora Manin, leaves an unhappy life in London to begin a new one as a glassblower in Venice. As she finds new life and love in her adoptive city, her fate becomes inextricably linked with that of her ancestor and the treacherous secrets of his life begin to come to light.
William Styron - Set This House on Fire
Three Americans converge in an Italian village shortly after World War II. One is a naive Southern lawyer. One is a rough-edged artist with a fatal penchant for alcohol. And one is a charming and priapic aristocrat who may be the closest thing possible to pure wickedness in an age that has banished the devil along with God. Out of their collective alchemy William Styron has crafted an electrifying and deeply unsettling novel of rape, murder, and suicide -- a work with a Dostoevskian insight into the dreadful persuasiveness of evil.
Francesca Marciano - The End of Manners
From the critically acclaimed author ofRules of the Wild,a thrilling, timely, and darkly funny story of friendship, human frailty, and war--and the role of outsiders in a country where they do not belong. Maria Galante--rule-abiding, shy, a perfectionist--and larger-than-life journalist Imo Glass are on assignment in Afghanistan: Imo to interview girls who've attempted suicide rather than be married off to older men, Maria to photograph them. But in a culture in which women shroud their faces and suicide is a grave taboo, to photograph these women is to dishonor--and perhaps endanger--them. Maria and Imo must find their way among spies, arms dealers, and mercenaries, and through the back alleys of Kabul and into Pashtun villages, where the fragility of life stands out in bold relief. Before the assignment is over, Maria will have to decide if it's more important to succeed at her work--and please Imo--or to follow her own moral compass. Stunningly evocative and richly observed,The End of Mannersis a story of friendship and loyalty, of the transformative power of journeying outside oneself into the wider world.
Niccolò Ammaniti - As God Commands
"From Niccolò Ammaniti comes a novel set in industrial Italy, where a father and son contend with a hostile world, and their own inner demons." "The economically depressed village of Varrano, where Cristiano Zena lives with his hard-drinking, out-of-work father, Rino, is a world away from the picturesque towns of travel brochure Italy. So when Rino and his cronies come up with a plan to reverse their fortunes, Cristiano wonders if maybe their lives are poised for deliverance after all. But the plan goes horribly awry; on a night of apocalyptic weather, each person will act in a way that has irreversible consequences for themselves and others, and Cristiano will find his life changed forever, and not in the way he hoped." As God Commands is a story of life at the crossroads of hope and despair.
Penny Feeny - The Apartment in Rome
Gina’s life is good. She is independent. She loves her adopted home in Italy and she is passionate about her work as a photographer. Maybe her lover isn’t all she might hope and her beautiful apartment is in need of repair, but you can’t have everything all the time. And anyway, she’s all wrapped up in her latest artistic project, shots of the young men who arrive in Italy as refugees, destitute and vulnerable. Until one day, Sasha, a lonely British teenager at summer school, crosses Gina’s path, and unwittingly sets her world spinning. Sasha’s innocent romance creates complications neither of them could have imagined, leading Gina to wonder, can she come to terms with her past.
Gail Carriger - Blameless
Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season. Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead. While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.
Jess Walter - Beautiful Ruins
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.
Mirella Sichirollo Patzer - The Novice
A young woman on the verge of taking her vows to become a nun. A desperate flight from a murderous massacre. One honorable man comes to her rescue. Another becomes her nemesis and captor. And a life and death search to reunite with her one true love. In 10th century Naples, Saracens run rampant, annihilating villages, murdering women and children. Death and despair is everywhere. Alone in the world, Sara is a young novice plagued with doubts about taking her final vows to become a nun. When her convent is attacked, she flees for her life straight into the arms of a group of Saracens who leave her to die alone in the woods. An honorable cavaliere named Nicolo comes to her rescue and offers to take her to the safety of Naples. As they journey together, they are irresistibly drawn to each other. Believing Sara to be a nun, the honorable Nicolo is torn between love and duty to respect her vows. Heartbroken, he does what honor demands and sets her free before she can tell him the truth that she is not a nun. In her search to reunite with Nicolo, she encounters Umberto, a dark and dangerous man who will stop at nothing in his obsession to possess her. With her sharp intellect, and her heart, Sara must rely on her own courage and strength to escape her abuser and find the only man she will ever love. A story that burns with intensity, intrigue, and passion from the author of the highly successful novel, Orphan of the Olive Tree.
Elena Ferrante - My Brilliant Friend
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction: The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter. With this novel, the first in a trilogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy’s great storytellers. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.
Lise Friedman - Ciel Friedman - Letters to Juliet
Juliet. She’s one-half of the world’s most famous couple, whose enduring legend draws millions of visitors to Verona every year. But that’s only part of the story. Since the 1930s, Juliet has received an untold number of letters from writers all over the world. Most of the missives talk of love, of course—love found and love lost, love sought and love remembered. They may be written by teenagers in the throes of a first crush or struggling with parental censure. They may be from adults celebrating a hard-won love or wrestling with commitment. They come by the truckload, in almost every imaginable language—composed on ornate stationery, scrawled on loose-leaf, or scribbled on whatever scraps were handy. Frequently addressed simply, “Juliet, Verona,” all of these letters reach their destination and, amazingly enough, all of them receive an answer. Letters to Juliet is the story of these letters and the volunteers who have been answering them for more than 70 years—volunteers who first acted privately, and who are now sanctioned by the city of Verona to answer thousands of letters each year as part of the Juliet Club. Complete with selected letters, this romantic and poetic book also contains the history behind Shakespeare’s tale and the monuments that fuel the legend. Utterly unique and magical, Letters to Juliet is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt the pangs of love.
Allie Spencer - Save the Date!
Family weddings can be hell - and, marooned in Italy for her cousin’s nuptials, Ailsa can be forgiven for thinking that this one is worse than most. With the bride and groom at loggerheads and the guests in an uproar, it is a million miles away from the rest and relaxation she'd been hoping for. And then suddenly, in the middle of the mayhem, she comes face-to-face with Nick, the man she walked out on just a few months earlier. How can Ailsa help get the wedding back on track when she and Nick can’t stop arguing? But if they do, she might remember why she fell in love with him in the first place - and then there really would be trouble.
Martin Booth - A Very Private Gentleman
The locals in the southern Italian town where he lives call him Signor Farfalla—Mr. Butterfly: for he is a discreet gentleman who paints rare butterflies. His life is inconspicuous—mornings spent brushing at a canvas, afternoons idling in the cafes, and evening talks with his friend the town priest over a glass of brandy. Yet there are other sides to this gentleman's life: Clara: the young student who moonlights in the town bordello. And another woman who arrives with $100,000 and a commission, but not for a painting of butterflies. With this assignment returns the dark fear that has dogged Signor Farfalla's mysterious life. Almost instantly, he senses a deadly circle closing in on him, one which he may or may not elude. Part thriller, part character study, part drama of deceit and self-betrayal, A Very Private Gentleman shows Martin Booth at the very height of his powers
Frances Mayes - Under the Tuscan Sun
Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.
Michael White - The Medici Secret
In the crypt of the Medici Chapel in Florence, palaeopathologist, Edie Granger, and her uncle, Carlin Mackenzie, are examining the mummified remains of one of the most powerful families in Renaissance Italy. Edie and Mackenzie both have serious doubts about the true identity of at least two of the five-hundred-year-old bodies.
Niccolò Ammaniti - I'll Steal You Away
Italian literary superstar Niccolò Ammaniti’s debut novel, I’m Not Scared, prompted gushing praise, hit international best-seller lists, and was made into a smash indie film. With his highly anticipated follow-up, Ammaniti takes his unparalleled empathy for children, his scythe-sharp observations, and his knack for building tension to a whole new level. In a tiny Italian village, a young boy named Pietro is growing up tormented by bullies and ignored by his parents. When an aging playboy, Graziano Biglia, returns to town, a change is in the air: Pietro decides to take on the bullies, his lonely teacher Flora finds romance with the town’s prodigal son, and the inept janitor at the school proclaims his love for his favorite prostitute. But the village isn’t ready for such change, and when Graziano seduces and forgets Flora, both she and Pietro’s tentative hopes seem crushed forever. With great tenderness, Ammaniti shines light on the heart-wrenching failures and quiet redemptions of ordinary people trying to live extraordinary lives. I’ll Steal You Away is a fresh and classic story of a boy learning to be a man that delivers on the promise of Ammaniti’s acclaimed debut.
Marina Fiorato - Beatrice and Benedick
Hidden in the language of Shakespeare's best-loved comedy Much Ado About Nothing, are several clues to an intriguing tale. It seems that the witty lovers Beatrice and Benedick had a previous youthful love affair which ended bitterly. But how did they meet, why did they part, and what brought them together again? Messina, Sicily, 1588. Beatrice of Mantua comes to the court of her uncle Leonato, to be companion to his daughter, Hero. That fateful summer, Spanish lordling Don Pedro visits for a month-long sojourn on the island with his regiment. In his company is the young soldier Benedick of Padua. Benedick and Beatrice begin to wage their merry war of wit, which masks the reality that they dance a more serious measure, and the two are soon deeply in love. But the pair are cruelly parted by natural disaster and man-made misunderstanding. Oceans apart, divided by war and slander, Beatrice and Benedick begin their ten-year odyssey back to Messina and each other.