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This novel is a great 'page turner' for these Covid times. Packed with detail and historical references to literature and Italian painting. It explores the memorable life of a returned English soldier, who faces disappointment and regret in village life after the war. He moves to Florence, Italy and constructs a wonderfully diverse and unusual 'family life' with the help of a cast of characters whose lives become intricately interwoven.
This is the 3rd book by Sarah Winman I have read and loved. She has a gentle touch in her portrayal of such diverse believable characters, all flawed and all capable of love and beauty. Spending so much of the novel in Florence was a sheer delight and it brought back many happy memories for me of a brief sojourn there. The way knowledge of art, life, love and sexuality is acquired and handed down from one to another is one of the many highlights of this book.
A young English soldier meets a much older English art historian in a chance encounter in the closing days of WW2 in Italy. The author moves between London and Florence through a group of unlikely friends who at one time or another will call Florence home. The art, food, people and struggles of this renaissance city and the group are exquisitely rendered with humour and affection.
This is a story about love ... the love of someone special, the love of old friends, and the love of Italian artistic reminders of a bygone age. Paintings and Sculptures abound painted and made with love for the people of Rome and the world.
Sarah Winman has created rich, well drawn characters who show love in many guises. Old friends, children, mothers, lovers, neighbours, new friends and all in love with the beautiful city of Florence. The only thing I disliked was the juxtaposition of Evelyn and Miss Everly. The names were too similar and I felt I always had to check which one was which. It made me yearn to return to Florence and also to wish for the era where there were not traffic jams of tourists.
To me this book is perfection, it’s all I could ask for. It made me smile so much and I know it is one I will return to over and over. I understand it may not be for everyone, that is ok. But if you enjoy good prose, quirky characters and vivid descriptions then plunge in and enjoy. I’m sad to finish and will miss all the characters but will think of them from time to time with much pleasure.