Simon & Schuster, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Bob Walch
lthough this lengthy historical novel (578 pages) received high marks for the detail it incorporated about Italy during the days leading up to World War II and the actual war years, it received mixed reader responses about the structure of the story and its tendency to ramble about too much.
et in Florence during the Mussolini era, the story's heroine is a young woman named Rosa. Left with the sisters of Santo Spirito when she was just an infant, the child's true identity is connected to a tiny silver key that was hidden in her wrappings.
ow, as a teenager, it is time for Rosa to join the world away from the nuns and she is sent out to be a governess at the home of an aristocrat and his very odd wife. Among her many talents Rosa has few special
that will allow her to delve into the family's secrets and perhaps uncover things that would be better left buried.
s the story plays out of who Rosa really is and what's going on with the family she's working for, the political situation in Italy goes from bad to worse as war comes to the country.
ou'll find that the author can both fully engage you at times in this epic novel but then she'll also
bore the pants off you
. If you do find your interest beginning to fade, I'd suggest jumping ahead a bit to see if that doesn't rekindle your involvement in the plot. At times, although this sounds strange, I started at the end of a chapter and then, page by page, read forward.
f you are a patient reader and enjoy long, involved plots and historical settings, this novel may work well for you. On the other hand,
may not work for person who prefers tightly written action stories.
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