Don’t miss this complex, thrilling tale set in Orvieto, a hill town in Umbria, Italy. This new novel by Rachel Hawkins has many gothic elements, a suitable setting for the gothic novel, nineteen-year-old Mari is writing. Mari and Lara, and later Emily, come to the villa to work on their respective artistic endeavors.
The male rock stars they are traveling with assume that their work is negligible. Pierce assumes that Lara’s songwriting and singing abilities are not good as his yet it is her album that will become famous. No one expects Mari’s gothic novel to become a sensation yet it does. The women comes to realize their worth even if it comes at a great price.
Decades later, Emily and Chess come to this same villa to work on their writing careers. Having written several best-selling self-help books, Chess is the more famous of the two. Emily feels stalled and unable to complete her cozy mystery, but she hopes the villa and the medieval town will inspire her.
Like the coterie of rock stars and muses that lives in the villa in the seventies, the two contemporary women conceal many secrets from each other. Though they have been best friends since childhood, there relationship is a competitive one–similar to the one Mari and Lara have.
“The house remembers,” Mari writes in her gothic novel. By coming to to villa, Emily and Chess reawaken interest in a decades old murder, a love triangle, and a hidden manuscript.
In some ways, this book reminds me of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six. Both novels depict up and coming rock stars and their rivalries and complicated love lives. This novel, however, has a dual timeline and suspenseful plot that are absent in the former.
Review by Chantal Walvoord