THE GARDEN OF LETTERS, by Alyson Richman, came along just in time for me to add it to my lecture series. A historical novel taking place in the Portofino area of Italy; a must read for those of us who are WWII fans.
THE GARDEN OF LETTERS begins in October of 1943 with Elodie Bertolotti standing on the deck of a boat heading toward the cliffs of Portofino, Italy. She’s escaping the ruin of her life after Mussolini’s monsters have destroyed her family and the man she loves.
When Elodie steps off the boat onto the soil of Portofino, her fear is palpable. Enough so that Angelo Rosselli, who is standing nearby, calls out to her, “Cousin! Cousin!” he cries. “Thank goodness you’ve come. I’ve been waiting for you for days!” And thus begins a new life in a new world for the young woman who now answers to the name Anna Zorzetto. And off she goes, with the only village doctor,( a complete stranger ) to his home and refuge on the side of the cliff that is part of Portofino.
Elodie was born to a musician father who helped her become a cello prodigy at an early age. Not only was she amazing at the cello, she actually heard music and had an extraordinary mind. This will be of monumental help to her as the boots on the ground come closer to her small world.
When Elodie falls in love it’s with Luca, the young and exciting bookstore owner in her village. He is involved in the resistance, as is her friend Lena. And you can envision the consequences of this already.
Angelo Rosselli is a haunted man. His story is one that made me flip through the pages of the book to continue it. The chapters go back and forth to Angelo and Elodie. But Angelo’s story begins further into the novel.
This is a unique story of WWII. I continue to be amazed when I find even more about this era than I already know. But Richman has managed to add a depth and dimension that didn’t already exist. Romance (√), new historical information (√), amazing sense of place(√), and deeply fleshed out characters I cared about(√).
I fell deeply in love with THE LOST WIFE a few years ago. And it appears a film adaptation is coming soon. Yippee! After reading the first couple chapters of THE GARDEN OF LETTERS, I knew without a doubt that Richman had another winner on her hands. And, yes, she sure as heck does!
I purchased my copy of THE GARDEN OF LETTERS. I will pass it around our store to make sure we all get a chance to read this one.