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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

From the blurb:

Nothing sings as sweetly as love, or burns quite like betrayal

Rosanna Menici is just a girl when she meets Roberto Rossini, the man who will change her life. In the years to come, their destinies are bound together by their extraordinary talents as opera singers and by their enduring but obsessive love for each other – a love that will ultimately affect the lives of all those closest to them. For, as Rosanna slowly discovers, their unison is haunted by irreversible events from the past . . .

Rosanna’s journey takes her from humble beginnings in the back streets of Naples to the glittering stages of the world’s most prestigious opera houses. Set against a memorable backdrop of Lucinda Riley’s trademark evocative locations, The Italian Girl unfolds into a poignant and unforgettable tale of love, betrayal and self-discovery.

This is exactly my kind of book – full of emotion and passion and hearts aching with need. The relationship between Roberto and Rosanna had me utterly gripped throughout, as I swung between wishing they would find a happy-ever-after together, and feeling unsettled by the obsessive quality of their love. I loved the honesty of this conflict – that the protagonists are flawed; that their love is not perfect.

But while Roberto and Rosanna are the focal point of the book, there are so many other poignant stories interwoven through the narrative – the pious man torn between his love for God and his love for a woman; the gentle and honourable soul who longs for Rosanna in the background; the aging father, wanting to hold on to his children; the desperate mistress and the depths to which she will go to manipulate and control; and for me, most moving of all, the mother who must let go of her daughter, and the daughter who never knew her father. I can’t tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes as I read, and how many cups of tea went cold, so lost did I get in the story!

I love the settings for the book – Naples and London – and how the author describes them so vividly I felt I was there. But most of all I love the importance of opera throughout the story. As I read, I felt I could almost hear Roberto and Rosanna sing, could picture them on the greatest stages of the world, bringing the audience to their feet. I so love opera for its drama and ability to stir emotion, and I think in this book Lucinda Riley has managed to create an opera on paper. Heavenly!

The writing style is exquisite – realistic dialogue, beautiful descriptions and just the right measure of pace, slow enough to allow the reader to really comprehend the characters and their emotions, but fluid enough to make me keep wanting to turn the pages. I especially love how the author’s use of the third-person narrator allows the reader free access to the story from all characters’ perspectives, so we are all-knowing and can make connections that the individual characters cannot. That means being privy to explosive secrets, and I spent a good part of the book questioning in my own heart whether I thought such secrets were best left alone or exposed, to the point that I was relieved when the author made the decision for me!

In all, this is a captivating, beautifully written, moving book. Romance as it should be written. Sheer bliss in the reading.

The Italian Girl is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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