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Last Voyage of the Valentina Paperback – 10 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 1st Coronet Edition edition (10 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0340836539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340836538
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Santa Montefiore was born in England in 1970 on a beautiful farm in Hampshire. After Sherborne School for Girls she read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires. Her love for Argentina inspired her first four novels, but her American publisher wasn't interested in Argentina as a setting so she based her fifth novel in Italy - America came on board at that point but have not published her first four. Her novels take place in France, South Africa as well as Ireland and England and have been translated into over 25 languages and sold over 2 million copies worldwide. She has just completed her 14th title for 2014, The Beekeeper's Daughter. She lives in London with her husband, the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, and their two children. Visit Santa's website at Follow her on twitter at santamontefiore.

Product Description


Written with finesse and page-turning energy. (Kirkus Reviews)

Santa Montefiore brilliantly captures the intrigue and skulduggery of a country at war in a very absorbing romance. (Red)

The novel is a triumph . . . Santa allows us to hear all her characters speak, ensuring we form immediate bonds with them (Writing Magazine)

A thrilling dark romance (Italy)

If you're a fan of the old-fashioned blockbuster and are fond of a little Rosamunde Pilcher-style nostalgia, this is just the ticket. (Glamour)

Oh the exotic, dramatic romance of it all. Santa Montefiore writes with true style and passion, her characters overflowing with emotion, her plots thick with intrigue and betrayal. Ladies, take the phone off the hook and settle down with 400 pages of blissful escapism. (Shari Low, Scottish Daily Record)

Enough bedroom bangs to keep the pulse racing. (New Woman)

Santa Montefiore's world of Italian peasants and partisans, Nazis and aristocrats is flamboyant and suspenseful. Anyone who likes Joanna Harris or Mary Wesley will love Montefiore's atmospheric sixth romance. (Mail on Sunday)

'Santa Montefiore is a superb storyteller of love and death in romantic places in fascinating times . . . Last Voyage of the Valentina is a passionate, page-turning life journey and a dark mystery that sweeps from war-torn, Mafia-infested Italy to aristocratic 1960s London' (Plum Sykes (author of Bergdorf Blondes))

Book Description

Delicious romantic escapism from bestselling novelist Santa Montefiore

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First Sentence
"She's enjoying the attentions of that young man again," said Viv, standing on the deck of her houseboat. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By LindyLouMac on 25 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not surprisingly, considering where I currently live, drawn to novels set in Italy. This turned out to be not as atmospheric as one might have hoped, but it was still a reasonable easy read for a sunny afternoon.

Romantic escapism set in England and Italy in the 1940's and the 1970's, the novel starts with a Prologue telling us about an honour murder committed at the end of WWII. This mystery behind this murder is finally solved in the 1970's when Alba, the young female protagonist of the story, goes to Italy seeking the truth about her heritage.
Her father Thomas Arbuckle had fallen in love with Valentina an Italian during WWII. After the war ended he returned to England with a babe in arms, Alba, but no Valentina as she is dead.
In the 1970's Alba is now a young woman who does not get on with her step-mother or step- siblings and hates country living. Thanks to her father's generosity and desire to keep her happy, whilst refusing to ever mention her birth mother she lives a selfish life full of fun on her father's houseboat in London. The only concession ever made to her Italian roots was encouraging her to learn Italian. As a young woman who has never met any of her mother's relatives, or even been to Italy, she yearns to learn more about her Italian roots.
It is the discovery of a portrait of her mother that finally makes Alba travel to Italy on a journey into the past which changes her future and her for ever.
Although I think I understand what the author was saying in the Epilogue, I still found the ending a disappointment. Not the ending I had hoped for or expected!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DubaiReader VINE VOICE on 3 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the 4th of Santa Montefiore's books that I have read and I certainly enjoyed it.
It didn't quite capture the atmosphere of "Meet Me Under the Ombu Tree" or "The Butterfly Box", both of which were set in Argentina. However, "Last Voyage of the Valentina" was certainly butter than "the Swallow and the Hummingbird", which I found disappointing.
Alba never knew her mother and has been dreadfully spoilt by way of compensation. The dark secrets surrounding her death have been hidden from her all her life, so that, in her 20's she determines to go to the Itallian village where her mother lived, and discover her roots.
Alba's character wwas a bit flat, but I loved Fitz and their eccentric friend Viv. The life on the houseboats was also interesting.
Overall the book seemed to lack an element of excitement, but my main criticism would be the literary style. Ms Montefiore frequently makes a statement and then explains it unnecessarily, in this she reminded me of Maeve Binchy. I didn't notice her doing this in previous novels.
Overall I'd like to give this 3 1/2 stars, but that's not possible. I did not find it an 'artless dollop of period romance' as the previous reviewer, but it's not Ms Montefiore's best.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 July 2007
Format: Paperback
The cover of this book promised a "dark mystery" that would sweep me from "war-torn Italy to aristocratic 1960s London." [1970s actually!] Since, however, the characters are unpleasant, the settings are charmless, and the situations are not only unlikely but also reminiscent of twice-viewed (and better-told) Italian films, I was swept off to sleep.

In turgid prose [The words "her strange eyes" recur at least four times], the author relates the story of Alba Arbuckle, who is constantly wriggling about in Mary Quant mini-skirts and flashing her knickers (or lack of them) at local vicars and anyone else who happens to enter her orbit. One day, after a steamy session of casual love-in-the-afternoon, Alba discovers a scroll under her bed [Where else?]. It is a pastel drawing of her long-dead mother, and it is inscribed by her father [in bad Latin: "dum spiro, ti amo"-- "Amo" takes the accusative "te" in Latin.]. This plot device sends Alba on a quest to discover the secret of her past (She should have stood in bed!).

As a lover of Italy, I was hoping that the flashbacks set in a mythical town "Incantellaria" on the Amalfi Coast, would be worth persuing. I was disappointed. We have olive and cypress trees, purple wisteria, noisy cicadas--pasta with "fish sauce," even (117), and the beauteous Valentina, who, of course, wears a semitransparent dress and walks like a duck: "her feet turning outward, she held her stomach in, pushed her bottom out, and swung her hips" (112). Valentina, Alba's mother, is identified by the scent of figs, making me wonder if the author has ever stood in a grove of fig trees, which give off a strong smell that recalls uric acid.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carole Eva on 3 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Romantic and improbable! When Alba took herself off to the Amalfi coast in an attempt to gain some knowledge of her dead mother, I hoped the author was going to transport me back there, so I could feel the essence of a place that I know quite well. Unfortunately it just didn't happen. Even the atmosphere of England in the 'Swinging Sixties' didn't seem to ring true (and I was there!). This is my first Santa Montefiore novel, I just hope that her others are better! OK for a beach read.
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