The Villa Triste

Thanks to Leslie at my favourite local bookstore for recommending this book. She was bang-on – I really liked it. The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle (published by McArthur & Company) is divided into two parts, one takes place in the past ( during the war in Italy in 1943) and the other in present day Italy. It’s like reading two books in one. Usually I don’t like books that flip back and forth in time, but this one is so clever – the past is written in a different typeface than the present so you automatically know where you are in time when you see the print. Smart, and helpful. Which is what you need when you’re reading a book that is 562 pages long. During the war sisters Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio become part of the Partisan movement in Italy helping people escape the Nazis. They become very skilled at their efforts, Caterina is a nurse and is able to move about a little more freely than most people and Isabella uses her love of hiking and knowledge of the outdoors to the movement’s advantage. Fast forward to the present day and 3 members of the Partisan movement are killed, one by one, and Alessandro Pallioti, a senior police officer in Florence  soon realizes that their deaths must have something to do with their involvement in the Partisan organization during the war. It’s the only thing the 3 have in common. He sets out to find as much as he can about the past and how it could be connected to the present. At one point in the book, about 2/3 along I though it began to drag a bit (remember it’s 562 pages), but by then I was so intrigued and hooked on knowing what was going to happen, I kept going. And I’m glad I did because the story picked up, and definitely didn’t disappoint in the end. My only criticism was that many people had aliases during the war, and I got a bit confused with who was really who, especially with all the Italian names, but that didn’t matter. This is really a wonderful book. I’d never heard of Lucretia Grindle before, but I’m desparate to read her other book called The Faces of Angels – it was chosen by BBC’s Front Row as one of the six best thrillers of the year.

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