The Italian Wife – The Pontine Marshes, Italy – Kate Furnivall

italian wife

Why a booktrail?

Italy, 1932. Mussolini’s Italy is growing from strength to strength, but at what cost?

Story in a nutshell

Bellina, Italy

One bright sunny morning, architect Isabella Berotti sits at a café in the vibrant centre of Bellina in Italy. A woman comes up to her and asks if she will watch her ten year old daughter just for a moment. Isabella agrees but moments later, watches in horror as the woman throws herself from the square’s clock tower

Trying to protect the young child, Isabella is thrown into a dangerous situation as she attempts to keep the child away from the authorities. These are dangerous times in Italy and you can’t trust your neighbours. But something niggles Isabella, something the woman said before she committed suicide.

Isabella is compelled to work out the secrets of this encounter, and of the child’s family but she does so at a very grave risk to herself

Place and setting

Latina and the town hall Comune Di Latina Piazza del Popolo, 1 Bellina is fictional but is modelled on this village which was the inspiration for the village and setting of the novel see how the town is set out in a central forum into various quadrants The town hall where Isabella is sitting at the start of the novel? Latina - The public gardens At the centre of the town. Walk here to the Piazza del Popolo and marvel at the modernist and rationalist styles of the buildings Pontine Marshes In 1928 the Fascist government drained the marshes, cleared the vegetation, and settled several hundred families. Towns were built: Littoria (now Latina) in 1932, Sabaudia in 1934, Pontinis in 1935, Aprilia in 1937, and Pomezia in 1939. Sabaudia - Town Hall One of the towns created by Mussolini Rome Mussolini created fear from this building shouting and rousing the crowds from its balcony. Now an art museum - 15th-century palace museum housing collections of medieval & renaissance art, sculpture & weaponry.http://museopalazzovenezia.beniculturali.it/
Latina and the town hall
Comune Di Latina
Piazza del Popolo, 1
Bellina is fictional but is modelled on this village which was the inspiration for the village and setting of the novel see how the town is set out in a central forum into various quadrants
The town hall where Isabella is sitting at the start of the novel?
Latina – The public gardens
At the centre of the town. Walk here to the Piazza del Popolo and marvel at the modernist and rationalist styles of the buildings
Pontine Marshes
In 1928 the Fascist government drained the marshes, cleared the vegetation, and settled several hundred families. Towns were built: Littoria (now Latina) in 1932, Sabaudia in 1934, Pontinis in 1935, Aprilia in 1937, and Pomezia in 1939.
Sabaudia – Town Hall
One of the towns created by Mussolini
Rome
Mussolini created fear from this building shouting and rousing the crowds from its balcony. Now an art museum – 15th-century palace museum housing collections of medieval & renaissance art, sculpture & weaponry.http://museopalazzovenezia.beniculturali.it/

Kate Furnivall takes you to a side of Italy you have never seen before. The Pontine Marshes have such a history and story behind them that is recreated here against a backdrop of mystery and intrigue

Mussolini and his fascist regime had a vision – to recreate a brave new world, to give homes and work to those in the Great War. More than 124,000 men were involved in building the five towns on the marshes and what a historical backdrop this turns out to be.

Agro Pontino

A wide open plain of some 30 miles by 20 miles, 30 miles SW of Rome, the town of Bellina is fictional but is based on Latina, one of the towns Mussolini helped create.

A barren and godforsaken place..

But he had to admire Mussolini’s audacity. His sheer strength of will to succeed where Roman emperors, popes and even Napoleon ha failed before him

The historical background is important since Isabella Berotti’s husband was involved in the fighting and was one of Mussolini’s Blackshirts  – the tension as they roam the streets  on the outskirts of Bellina is palpable –

Isabella had heard rumours from Francesca of unrest in the zone, stories of the blackshirts sweeping through it with their truncheons. Here the dust was thick, at its worst when the wind raced down the mountains.

The history of the country and Mussolini’s legacy therefore is Isabella’s story too. She fears her husband’s death was more complicated that it was made out to be but fears searching for the truth will reveal so much more. Standing up to such a cruel regime is frightening – as Isabella stands in Mussolini’s presence

It was like being in a cage with a lion. Nothing less. He didn’t need to roar or  snarl. Just his presence was danger enough

Danger, unrest and betrayal are behind every corner as Rosa, the young girl looks set to remain trapped in the town’s convent. The authorities want to stop Isabella from trying to rescue her with a photographer at her side.

But why exactly does the atmosphere of suspicion and danger which lingers?

Booktrail review – Susan

If you love Italy, history or simply a very intriguing historical mystery then this is the book for you. From the very first page, the action and intrigue come thick and fast and the twists of the plot are as winding as the small Italian streets. You can smell the fear and tension all around, as Isabella tries to find out what Rosa’s mother told her just before she killed herself.

I was totally enraptured from the very first page. Why, who, what? I never stopped asking myself what was happening and the pages practically slipped through my fingers. Set against a real historical time period and event which I had never heard of, I was intrigued to know more and by reading this fascinating story of Isabelle and little Rosa, you will learn, feel and experience much more than in any history book.

The fear of a woman trying to protect a young child whilst uncovering the real past of her dead husband was a thrilling premise which was layered with dramatic effect. This needs to be a movie – it was so epically evoked and played out so vividly in my mind’s eye

Most definitely recommended for a trail but a gorgeously swept novel of history, the search for the truth and the true meaning of human legacy.

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Girls on Tour – Around the World – Nicola Doherty

girls on tour

Why a booktrail?

Formerly published at 5 e novellas, now you can literally travel the world with Poppy in Paris, Lily in LA, Maggie in Meribel, Rachel in Rome before heading off the to big apple.

Story in a nutshell 

Even if you’ve never met the four friends who have the most madcap adventures in far flung places around the world, here you can meet them all ‘ on tour’ for the celebrity travellers that they are. Set together in one volume, the journey almost seems like the most extravagant and mad cap adventure in the world.

Poppy, Lily, Maggie, and Rachel. Who will you want to be and where will you want to go? Well now you can now pick this perfect literary package tour. Holiday destinations and a fair few surprises and giggles along the way…

Place and setting

GIRLS-ON-TOUR

There should be a poster for this book – Girls on Tour – certainly reads like a tour and with that song ‘ Here come the girls’ ringing in our ears, this is the perfect moment to read this book.

Paris

Poppy’s off on a work trip to the city of romance. Ironic when she’s in one of her deepest dry spells. Oh and as soon as she arrives and steps off that metro at Odeon station, she sees the familiar Paris sights: the statue of Danton, broad boulevards with tall white buildings, Saint Suplice and the beautiful Jardins de Luxembourg. Oh but the two most iconic sites for a booktrailer are here too – The Shakespeare ad Company book shop and the nearby tea shop ‘ La Fourmi Ailee’ – literally translated as ‘ant with wings’. A very Parisian Jaunt around the city of love, but will it be love for Poppy?

Los Angeles

Lily in LA, where her dream role is ambushed by an all-American dreamboat. Oh the thrills and spills of the city of fame and fortune. Quirky funny observations where Hollywood boulevard reminds her of Bromley! From The treelined avenue of Abbot Kinney boulevard, this is a ride around Venice Beach and the wedding dress shops of the area. But with an American dreamboat not far behind…

Meribel

Maggie is in Meribel, where a romantic skiing holiday turns topsy-turvy.What’s there not to love with the soft white pure snow, hot chocolate, raclette, vin chaud…and plenty of eye candy too to enjoy on the slopes of the French alps

Rome

Ride a Vespa with Rachel in Rome, and follow her and her two besties around the city with history, culture and delectable men. It’s a culinary journey too for it made us want to eat olives, ice cream and sip cappuccinos although not at the same time!

Manhattan

What trip to New York would not want to recreate a little of the Sex and the City magic? Don’t be hungry when reading this for there are cocktails, pancakes and gorgeous treats galore. Oh and when the girls do Manhattan, they do Manhattan – from the tourist sites to the fun things that only girls on holiday can do. There’s a lot of fashion sights too and then Lily shares their real reason for being here..

Bookish musings

Well if you love travel, girlie holidays, thrills and spills of the unexpected, adventure and cocktails then you’re in for a fun ride! Such different characters and different settings for their quirky natures to come alive. Nice how the stories are interlinked and the friendships develop, I wanted to be the fifth girl on the tour to be honest. Thought we’d go to somewhere in Spain, Barcelona for example. Oooh I had it all planned out, the things we would do and the things we would see! I feel I know the girls well enough now to know what each one would like to do on their next jaunt away!

A lot of fun and dashing around the globe seeing each different lifestyles personality and adventures was a great literary trip. Interesting how the settings complimented the girls personalities too – and brought out such different behaviours. I had a song ‘ Girls on tour ‘ with a spice girl theme running in my mind all throughout these five picture postcards of literary jaunts and it made for a great soundtrack.

When you read something like this which could be a travelogue, love story, adventure and challenge to overcome troubles in your life all rolled into one, you just know you’re in for a great ride.

An Italian book trail- on the 77th anniversary of Rome’s Cinecittà studios

 

To celebrate the  77th anniversary of the establishment of Rome’s Cinecittà studios, created by Benito Mussolini which became a home from home for Hollywood stars in the 1950s and 60s, the Booktrail has selected Italian set books for a little trip around the country via literature! Whoo hoo so jump on the booktrail train and off we go!

A literary tour around Italy - image from Google Maps
A literary tour around Italy – image from Google Maps

 

A -Turin

turinshroudlgeThe Turin Shroud Secret

by Sam Christer 

A book of two halves. Set in Los Angeles where Lieutenant Mitzi Fallon is trying to solve the unusual crime of  women being murdered and then wrapped in bed sheets as if in a shroud.

Set in Turin – Mitzi’s colleague has been sent to Turin to investigate the murder of a writer who has written a script for a film about the Holy Shroud. What had she found out that was so controversial that it meant that she needed to be silenced?

What is going on with these two events and is there a link in some way?

under-the-tuscan-sun

Tuscany

Under the Tuscan sun

Frances Mayes

Poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—Frances transports us to a wonderful world of Italian food and drink wrapped up in scented and evocative tales of this wonderful part of the country

Tuscany is a unique part of Italy and definitely worth a visit

Unknown

Rome

Blood and Beauty

Sarah Dunant

 

A Spanish cardinal bribes his way to the top of the Church of Rome. Battles between Rome and cities all over Italy such as Naples and Florence. Strategic marriages, incest, cardinals who prefer to fight in battle, army chief who would prefer to be in the company of whores.

This is the story of Rome that you wont find on any guide or in any gideook!

 

9781904738756_p0_v2_s260x420

Bari

Involuntary Witness (Guido Guerrieri #1)

by  Gianrico Carofiglio

 

A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. A Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. It looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerrieri, but he soon has a fight on his hands and a fight he is determined to win

tus

Catania

There’s no Home

Alexander Baron

 

Se during the Second World War in 1943, when a small detachment of British troops finally arrive at the Sicilian city of Catania . The people there have suffered immense bombing and bombardment.

 

This is their story  – of the troops, the inhabitants there and an extraordinary situation brings them together.

Ooh we love literary trails here – what would you recommend? We’d love to know!

Angels and Demons, Rome

I enjoyed reading the Angels and Demons book of Dan Browns which I had read long before the famous Da Vinci Code came out. And I must say what a fantastic guide to Rome this is. Putting the story to one side, if you take the book around Rome, you get to see and appreciate a lot of the sights that a tourist might normally miss, or at least see them in a different light.

The imposing and eerily lit  Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peters Square is amazing in any situation, but after having read the novel, you can imagine and ‘see’ so much more. The secret passageway is more noticeable after reading the book and the act of Conclave comes to life in the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Particularly down in the Catacombs!!

The book describes a path – a path of illumination with four points which has been set as a trap by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a secret society who set the path as a means of inducting new members to the order. Four priests have been kidnapped and are to be killed at four sites around Rome. This leads Langdon to four places where each is associated with one of the primordial elements: ‘Earth’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’, and ‘Water’.

I also enjoyed learning about the ambigrams – an art form that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint or orientation. I have used this in some typography work I have been involved with recently.

I admit I did the journey following the path to see the fountains and the churches and to trace in Langdon’s footsteps. I didn’t think I believed in all the hype but I admit I didn’t dare take it into the Vatican as a mark of respect just incase.