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Italian Fever
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A great, page-turning summer read - Tuscany, passion and mystery... Valerie Martin's PROPERTY won the Orange Prize and sold over 100,000 copies in paperback THE GREAT DIVORCE reprinted within weeks of publication New jacket for paperback with a scene that is much more evocative of Tuscan summers - rolling hills, a Tuscan villa etc 'Martin's writing works best in the detail. Her description of Lucy's illness is gut wrenching...Martin captures the tragic humour of DV's funeral and acutely observes the petty manipulations of Massimo' Scotland on Sunday 'Part love story, part murder mystery, part psychological study...Valerie Martin's familiarity with Italy is put to good use in her renditions of the Tuscan countryside and of Rome' Time Out

About the Author

Valerie Martin is the author of two collections of short fiction and six novels, including The Orange Prize winner, Property, Italian Fever, The Great Divorce and Mary Reilly [the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story, from the viewpoint of a housemaid, which was filmed with Julia Roberts and John Malkovich. Her most recent book is a non-fiction work about St Francis of Assisi: Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St Francis. She lives in upstate New York.

Reviews

Thirtysomething New Yorker Lucy Stark travels to Italy when her employer, spectacularly successful shlocky novelist DV, dies suddenly. Expecting just to attend to DV's funeral and retrieve his possessions, Lucy finds that her stay in Italy dismantles her view of herself as a plain, practical, reliable woman. While she searches for DV's missing manuscript, the truth about his death, and the whereabouts of his beautiful lover, Lucy falls into a passionate (but tastefully described) love affair with a married man, encounters DV's angry ghost, suffers a ghastly bout of flu, and learns that first impressions are not to be trusted. She also discovers that while art can transform life, it also has the power to destroy. Martin (The Great Divorce, LJ 1/94) makes fine use of the trappings of a Gothic novel to bring this story of a young woman's self-discovery to life. Fans of Diane Johnson's Le Divorce (LJ 11/15/96) will find this especially charming. Very highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/99.]ÄNancy Linn Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

The reality-distorting fever that afflicts the i-dotting, t-crossing Lucy StarkÄa plainish Brooklyn woman who finds herself embroiled in the creepy intrigues of the aristocratic Cini familyÄenvelops her mere days after she arrives in northern Italy, and barely breaks before this upmarket gothic novel comes to closure. Lucy's delirium makes her likely to misinterpret all the things that go bump in the night, and yet when the lights come on at the novel's end, nearly all the ghouls shrink into shadows. In Tuscany on rather strange businessÄher employer, a popular and formulaic fiction writer named DV, has drunkenly met his death by falling down a well on the Cini propertyÄLucy becomes suspicious of the Cinis' byzantine ways and their dodginess on the subject of the American painter Catherine Bultman, whom Lucy assumed had been living as DV's lover in the house he rented on the Cini grounds. With her temperature steadily rising, Lucy rifles through DV's belongings and finds an amorous letter to Catherine, written in Italian and signed Antonio. Thinking she has uncovered a valuable clueÄAntonio is the name of the seedy scion of the Cini lineÄLucy begins to make more pointed inquiries about Catherine's whereabouts and the circumstances of her departure. She is waylaid in her investigation by her illness, however, and by the equally damaging and consuming affair she begins with the married Roman hunk named Massimo who nurses her back to health. Besides being a born-again passionate, Lucy is an art enthusiast; Martin's knowledge of iconography and hagiography adds an intellectual dimension to the romantic plot. Martin also describes the food in Tuscany and Rome luxuriouslyÄif sometimes with a hungry street urchin's obsessive care. With a few ghosts, several acts of love and numerous jibes at self-indulgent writers of the DV school, the sophisticated romantic adventure is rendered with stylish flair. Martin controls the narrative momentum smoothly and recounts her tale with occasional wryness and engaging enthusiasm. 50,000 first printing. (July)

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