Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: The Villa by Rosanna Ley

When Tess Angel receives a solicitor’s letter inviting her to claim her inheritance – the dilapidated but beautiful Villa Sirena, perched on a clifftop in Sicily - she is stunned. Her only link to the island is through her mother, Flavia, who left Sicily following World War II and cut all contact with her family. Could this be Tess’s chance to find out why?

Initially resistant to Tess going back to her roots, Flavia realises the secrets from her past are about to be revealed and decides to try to explain her actions. She compiles a book of her family’s traditional Sicilian recipes as a legacy to pass on to her daughter and tells her story which began in the summer of 1944 when she rescued an injured English pilot in the countryside near her home in Cetaria and helped nurse him back to health.

Meanwhile, Tess’s teenage daughter Ginny has lost her sense of direction. She is stressed by college and by her blossoming sexuality and consumed by questions that she longs to ask her father - if only she knew where he was.

Tess, a qualified diver, discovers the beauty of the underwater marine conservation area of Cetaria and falls in love with her inheritance. But there is a mystery attached to The Mermaid’s Villa concerning the missing Il Tesoro. What is this treasure and what does it have to do with her family? Tonino Amato and Giovanni Sciarra both seem to want to help her find out. She is drawn to Tonino, who creates dazzling mosaics from sea glass in the ancient baglio and tells her of the myths and legends of Sicily. But Giovanni warns her against him. Why are they sworn enemies and who can she trust? Tess must navigate a way through the prejudices of Sicilian history and the opposition of her family’s enemies in order to find out.

Paperback, 551 pages
Published 2012 by Quercus Books
Terri's Thoughts
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  thank you!

This is not the easiest book to review.  On one hand it is a really interesting story and on the other it seemed to fall a little short in execution in some areas.

I will start with the positive.  This story takes place for the majority in Sicily and the author does a wonderful job of describing the scenery.  In addition to that, those who love the food of Sicily will really enjoy the constant references and recipes for their dishes.  I understood none of it however I am not much of a cook so take it for what it is.

The story blends a little bit of mystery and a little bit of a love story.  I loved how it reflected on the love story of Tess in the present day and then traveled back to her mothers story.  I am drawn to stories that are drafted this way and the book did not disappoint.

On a not so favorable note, I found the mystery a little far fetched and lacking a certain something.  Also the story if Ginny almost seemed a little surplus and could have been left out altogether as this was a long read.  I really didn't get the concept of the her "ball".  Although I know what it was referring to it just was a little weird and could have been described differently.

Overall this was an interesting read and will appeal to those who have an interest in the area of Sicily and its customs.  A solid 3 stars

About the Author     

Rosanna Ley has worked as a creative writing tutor for over 15 years. Affiliated to several colleges and universities in England, she also runs her own writing courses in the UK and abroad. She has worked with community groups in therapeutic settings and completed an MA in creative writing for personal development in order to support this. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Italy and Spain and whilst not teaching or writing she mentors and appraises the work of new writers. Rosanna has had numerous articles and short stories published in UK magazines, and 12 novels of contemporary fiction published in the U.K, Germany, Greece and the U.S.A under a pseudonym. Her books are inspired by the culture and landscapes of Italy, Sicily and the Canary Islands and feature strong female voices from the past and present, along with an intense undercurrent of mystery and romance. Rosanna spends some time every year travelling around Europe looking for writing inspiration and more tranquil settings for writing holidays. She loves cliff walking and her favourite writing place is somewhere with a sea view. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives with her artist husband in a Victorian cottage in West Dorset by the sea.


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