Paperback, 384 pgs
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The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman is an emotional tale of finding the strength to do what’s right even if it places you, your dreams, and your family in danger. Elodie Bertolotti is a young, virtuoso with the cello, and her father teaches violin at the local music school in Verona, Italy. She has the musical talents of her father, and they often connect with just the music around them or speak through minimal glances and facial expressions. But like her mother, she can memorize things instantly. She has the best gifts for a musician — the ability to memorize entire scores and the ability to play them with passion. However, she is mild compared to her friend, Lena, who is outspoken against the Fascists and eager to get involved in the Italian resistance.
“His playing was the lullaby of her childhood. She knew when he played Mozart that he was savoring good news; when he was nervous, he played Brahms; and when he wanted forgiveness from her mother, he played Dvorak. She knew her father more clearly through his music than she did through his words.” (page 19)
The Venetian blood running through Elodie’s veins and her gift of memorization are things that she had little thought for beyond her music, but she soon realizes that they can be of great use. Richman has created a novel in which a young music student finds that she’s passionate about more than the scores she learns in class; she is eager to be noticed by Luca who catches her eye, but she also wants to take action against the Nazis who have come to lay a heavy hand on her country. Things are not what they once were in Verona, and she must learn how to either blend into the background or stand up for what she believes in.
The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman is stunning, and a real treat for those interested in the Italian resistance during WWII. But the novel also offers a coming of age story and a story of second chances. Richman has created an emotionally charged, suspenseful, historical fiction novel that at its heart speaks of redemption and new beginnings. Weaving together music, art, books, and war, Richman’s story transcends time through the lives of her dynamic characters. Another for the Best of List 2014.
About the Author:
Alyson Richman is the internationally bestselling author of: The Garden of Letters, The Lost Wife, The Last Van Gogh, The Rhythm of Memory (formerly published as Swedish Tango), and The Mask Carver’s Son. Her books have received both national and international critical acclaim and have been translated into eighteen languages. The Lost Wife was nominated as one of the best books of 2012 by the Jewish Journal of Books and was The 2012 Long Island Reads Selection. The novel is now a national bestseller with over 200,000 combined print/ebook copies sold and is in development to be a major motion film. Her forthcoming novel, The Painted Dove, centers around the French courtesan Marthe de Florian and the mystery of her Paris apartment that remained locked for 70 years. It will be published by Berkley/Penguin in September 2016. A graduate of Wellesley College and a former Thomas J. Watson Fellow, she currently lives with her husband and children in Long Island, New York.
37th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
33rd book (WWII) for the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist.
28th book for 2014 European Reading Challenge; (Set in Italy)