Review by Ann McDonald
Written in dazzling prose and set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.
‘The Garden of Letters’ is an engrossing and well researched novel. It’s about love, sacrifice, cruelty, death and life. It’s a war story and author Alyson Richman weaves two lovely tales, laid out for you to feast upon. It will make you smile and feel the love flowing and it will also make you cry, your tears for characters that are heart-breakingly authentic. It is a symphony of life and how people live during a time of war. Elodie is a young prodigy, she studies cello under the tutelage of her Professor father who teaches at Verona’s Liceo Musicale. It is 1943 and Germany has not yet invaded Italy but it is imminent.
Lena, Elodie’s friend who studies violin with her, is already a member of the local resistance. She brings Elodie to the bookstore owned by Luca where they meet and Elodie is immediately drawn to him and him to her. When her father is severely beaten up by Mussolini’s Fascist regime, Elodie is determined to join the resistance where here photographic memory and musical ability will be utilized to pass information along to the men in the mountains. In 1935, a young man named Angelo Rosselli from Portofino, is studying to become a doctor when he meets and falls in love with Darla. He teaches her to read and when he becomes a doctor, is sent to Ethipoa for a tour of duty.
He marries Darla and when he leaves, she is with child. He promises to write every day and Darla uses the letters to cover the walls and ceilings, surrounding herself with letters of love, hence the title of this beautiful book. There is much ground covered in the pages, before Elodie and Angelo meet, broken and hurting from the horrors of war. One final love story is written that will take your breath away. No amount of positive reviews can cover what has been written here. It is an absolutely beautiful book which I very highly recommend. Buy it and keep it, I know I will be reading it again soon.
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