I instantly fell for this cover. It draws you right in. So does the story.
THE INVITATION, by Lucy Foley, is an evocative love story filled to the brim with obsession and eerie mystery. The story begins in 1953 in Rome, Italy. We meet Hal who is recuperating from the war. He’s a torn- apart journalist who is trying to put himself back together after losing his fiancée. He’s living on a wing and a prayer and definitely needs some luck.
Hal is given an “invitation” to a royal bash at a lush palazzo given by a wealthy contessa. Where does someone like Hal get an invitation such as this? His friend can’t attend and passes it on to him. He is quickly outed as he tries to enter the party but, the contessa intervenes and takes a real shine to him. She’s a real character, that’s for sure.
Hal’s life is never to be the same. Oh what a night. He ends up having a one-night stand with a beautiful young woman whose last name he does not know. She is gone like a dream when he wakes the next morning. Not to be seen again until two years later when he’s on a yacht sailing to the Cannes film festival…
The contessa is quite taken with Hal and seeks him out. She offers him a dream job. She’s made a film and wants Hall to cover the film festival and the en route journey. It’s really too good to be true. He soon finds himself on the way to Cinque Terre where the journey will begin. The scenery along Liguria is shockingly stunning. The five towns positively are falling off the side of the coast. This is one of the places that is on my bucket list. Talk about atmospheric, It may even be more lovely than Positano and the Amalfi Coast; wonder if that is possible.
Hal hasn’t been able to forget the lovely mystery woman who disappeared like a puff of smoke in Rome. Just when he thought he’d lost her forever, she turns up in Cinque Terre, complete with a filthy rich husband who dotes on her. And we watch as the obsession begins. And festers, and becomes larger than life.
This story is filled with colorful characters and the sparkle and glitter that accompany them. They are the super-rich. And the lifestyle is fitting. But something is horribly wrong with the relationship between Stella and her husband. The atmosphere is charged with brittleness. Told in two voices: Stella and Hal’s, the story goes back in time to Stella’s childhood where we slowly learn where she is from and who she actually is. It’s quite eerie and shot through with innuendos.
Hal is determined to find out what causes Stella so much angst. The husband keeps getting in the way. The ending is a big surprise. The story reminded me of THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.
I’ll keep my eye on Lucy Foley, the author. She’s definitely one to watch.
My gorgeous finished hard cover came from the generous people at Little Brown in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed it. I think it would make a great film:)