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A Party in San Niccolo [Paperback]

Christobel Kent
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 2003
An entrancing story that is one of the most absorbing examinations of the English in Italy since A Room With A View. Set during one week in springtime Florence, A Party In San Niccolo follows the events leading up to the seventy-fifth birthday party for Frances Richardson, a much-loved English resident. Around her, Frances' friends are gearing up for the party too: Frank, a disenchanted journalist; Jane, who runs an Italian cookery school for rich Home Counties wives; her shady husband Niccolo; and Gina, a beleaguered mother-of-three who has come to Florence for a break. Before the week is out love, death, family secrets and old memories will come to a head at Frances' party, with dramatic results...


Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014102559X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141025599
  • ASIN: 0141012714
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 11.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence. She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. This is her first book.

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As the S223, fast, narrow and dangerous, curves south out of Siena and down towards the sea, it leaves the rounded, painterly contours of Chianti behind, for something altogether darker and more mountainous. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's OK - really - try it ! 26 July 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was really quite good.
I didn't find the characters 'wooden' - I would just call them 'understated'. It was a hard, fast murder mystery in the usual mould, it was a gentle, ambling murder mystery that although it did have it's dark sides, it was also quite a relaxing read.
The descriptions of Florence were very evocative and I felt like I would miss most of the characters when I finished the book.
I'm certainly about to buy her other two !
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric Thriller 5 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm not the best reviewer in the world but wanted to let people know what a terrific first novel this is.
It's all set in one week with the party of the title being the denouement. Gina's week's holiday away from her slightly distracted husband and three demanding children turns out to be quite different from the one she expected.
The author conjures up such images of Florence both good and bad you can almost smell and taste it.
Please read this book - you won't be disappointed.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Evelina had been caught between two rocks off the beaten track. The body had been there for several hours as rigor mortis had already started to set in. Evelina was just fourteen years old.
In a dark Florentine back street another girl's dead body lays in a shower of broken glass. Her navel stud torn out and bleeding- there had been a violent struggle. The girl's name was Natasha Julius, also of very young age.
Gina Donovan felt like her life in London had been sinking for quite some time. With three children to look after and no time left to herself she was recently prone to have an outburst of tears and bordering a case of depression. Gina's husband calls their old college friend Jane Manzini who now lived in Florence. Could a week away make all the difference?
Lady Frances Richardson was about to throw one of her grandest celebration parties for her birthday. The party in San Niccolo was going to be her best remembered.
Between Gina's arrival and Frances' Party, fear and suspicion cast a shadow over the happy event. Gina question herself, was her life really upside-down or was it just a case of everybody else's lives looking a lot more complicated.
Wonderful, once again Christobel Kent has come through with her intelligent, well-paced descriptive writing, which I always love to read. Kent's observation of people and places for her characterisation are well told from elegant Italian ladies to the seedier and sinister side of life. Kent's describes the English residents, who try to remain in their class system when greeting each other on the street, with the rules of exclusion and involvement always feeling uncomfortable at being caught off guard. However an Italian would enjoy a leisurely conversation even with a perfect stranger.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's OK - really - try it ! 26 July 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was really quite good.
I didn't find the characters 'wooden' - I would just call them 'understated'. It was a not a hard, fast murder mystery in the usual mould, it was a gentle, ambling murder mystery that although it did have it's dark sides, it was also quite a relaxing read.
The descriptions of Florence were very evocative and I felt like I would miss most of the characters when I finished the book.
I'm certainly about to buy her other two !
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a party in san niccolo 1 July 2003
Format:Paperback
This is a treasure. Let her keep writing; one hopes she will.
It is a beauitifully choreographyed book,the characters are drawn simply with beauty and human understanding,the sense of place is illustrated with such dexterity of a writer far beyond her years,it has a freshness that is invigorating.
Slow and choopy to start, she does not dissapoint however.
It is a convoulted circumcumnavigation of time,place people and incendents and ultimitly works wonderfully.
One hopes that this imagination and this wonderful immpressionistic style will continue and florish
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two books, one great 17 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book -- or at least, half of it. The author draws Florence beautifully, and her characters too, live. But the subplot involving the prostitution and murder is a less convincing depiction of the town's "dark side." I kept wishing the author had trusted her great ability to describe people and places, and had kept the story a bit 'smaller' and more personal.
All this said, it is well worth reading, and I would read anythign else she writes.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars extremely enjoyable 19 July 2007
By JCH
Format:Paperback
This is not the usual 'sort' of literature that I read, but when it was recommended to me I bought it and have now ordered two more of the author's works. I really enjoyed it and the descriptions of Italy are wonderful. It is a real page turner and some of the human insights are really wonderful. Some of the characters perfectly conjured up real people that I have known in my own life, so the people and places are extremely believable. The plot is also very exciting and kept me guessing.
I highly recommend this novel!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Murder, and diverse lives in Florence 13 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has been lucky enough to travel to Florence, or anyone contemplating a visit will enjoy this book. It is a well written storey linking the privileged and unprivileged communities within this historic city. The characters come to life and each has a storey to tell and reasons to be in the city at a point in time where they are cleverly drawn together over just a few days. The storey takes you on a journey that twists and turns with a surprising climax. Once started, you can't put this book down until you know the answer to the mystery and the outcome for the characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
Much more enjoyable than I expected, Kent really captured the atmosphere of Florence. Well I think she did since I've only ever made a short visit but reading this made me long to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by PL
5.0 out of 5 stars florence in a book
i love this book, i had it in paperback and had to have it in kindle form so i can keep it to reread, i have been to Florence and i felt like i was back there it is descriptive of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by avrille murphy
4.0 out of 5 stars taste of florence
Full of little little insights into life in Florence from food, style, art and a sense of menace. Have read it twice!
Published 13 months ago by PHILIP and Sian STEDMAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Thriller set in Italy
This is a thriller with a realistic Italian background, although as first published in 2003 there are a couple of points that remove it from the 21C and the Italy that we know. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by LindyLouMac
1.0 out of 5 stars Not brilliant
Title sounded good and the photograph looked intriguing. Sadly I was seduced by the cover, this is a plodding lifeless lump of prose which is taking me an age to read. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2009 by Mrs. J. M. Thomas
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak story, but beautiful setting
The book left me considerably underwhelmed, however the writer really drew on her love and knowledge of Florence completely capturing the essence of the place. Read more
Published on 5 July 2005 by LotsC
2.0 out of 5 stars too much plot ?
I bought this book because of the Italian aspect, and there is some local colour to enjoy. The plot is too ambitious though, and the dialogue is wooden ... Read more
Published on 2 Jan 2004
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