Italy -- fiction

Miss Garnet's Angel

By Salley Vickers

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"Stories magically unfold within this novel's irresistible tale of Miss Julia Garnet, a schoolteacher who decides, after the death of her longtime friend Harriet, to take an apartment for six months in Venice. Soon overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the city and its magnificent art, Miss Garnet's English reserve begins to melt away. For the first time in her life she falls in love--with an art dealer named Carlo--and her once ordinary world is further transformed by a beautiful Italian boy, Nicco, and an enigmatic pair of twins engaged in restoring the fourteenth-century Chapel-of-the-Plague.

"Most affecting to Julia, though, is her discovery in a local church of panels depicting the ancient tale of Tobias and the Angel. As Julia unravels the story of Tobias's redemption, she too strives to recover losses--not just her own but also the priceless painting of an angel that goes mysteriously missing from the Chapel along with one of the twins restoring it. His name is Toby. And Miss Garnet herself may prove to be an angel, but nowhere in this haunting, beautifully textured and multilayered novel is anything quite what it appears to be."

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Lucifer's Shadow

By David Hewson

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"In an ancient burial ground on an island off Venice, a young woman’s casket is pried open, an object is wrenched from her hands, and an extraordinary adventure begins.

"From the moment he arrives in Venice, Daniel Forster is seduced by the city’s mystery and eroticism. An earnest young academic, Daniel has come for a summer job cataloguing a private collector’s library. But when Daniel’s employer sends him to buy a stolen violin from a petty thief, a chain reaction of violence and deception ignites. Suddenly Daniel is drawn into a police investigation--and a tempest swirling around a beautiful woman, a mysterious palazzo, and a lost musical masterpiece dating back centuries.

"With each step he takes, Daniel unwittingly retraces a journey that began in 1733, when another young man came to Venice. And when, in this realm of intrigue and beauty, two lovers came face-to-face with a killer—and a mystery was born. Separated by centuries, two tales of passion, betrayal, and danger collide in David Hewson’s dazzling novel."

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Conclave: A Novel of Passion and the Papacy

By Greg Tobin

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Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, Timothy John Mulrennan is a typical American of the post-WWII generation. Since childhood he has known a deep and abiding faith in God that leads him to a career as a priestand propels him onto the stage of world events that includes the election of the first Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic church in the third millennium. Along the way he encounters some remarkable characters: Henry Martin Vennholme, leader of the conservative lay movement called Evangelium Christi; Rachel Seredi, a beautiful artist from Hungary who falls in love with Bishop Mulrennan and gives him the greatest gift a woman ever could; Cardinal Leandro Biagi, a wily and urbane politician who would have been at home in the time of the Medicis and Borgias; and Jaime de Guzman, the Archbishop of Manila, the one man who speaks in the Americans' defense and who pays the ultimate price for his honesty and faith in God.

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A Thread of Grace

By Mary Doria Russell

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It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it becomes overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

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Juliet by Anne Fortier

Juliet by Fortier

We are all familiar with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. We also remember the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Finally, I’d be willing to bet that many of you know the Bard’s famous play was set in Verona, Italy. However, here are a few facts that might surprise you. Shakespeare’s telling was the culmination of several previous versions by various other authors. The original lovers were Giuletta Tolomei and Romeo Marescotti. There was, indeed, bad blood between the families, and the tale was set in Siena, not Verona. In a new telling, Anne Fortier’s Juliet alternates between a 20th-century pairing of Guiletta and Romeo and their 15th-century alter egos.

Julie Jacobs’ father perishes in an unexplained fire. Two years later, her mother dies in a suspicious auto accident. Fearing harm to toddler Julie and her twin sister Janice, their Aunt Rose whisks the children from Italy to the United States. Together with her live-in assistant Umberto, she raises the girls but for years avoids discussing anything related to the twins’ parents and their untimely demise.