Customer Reviews


411 Reviews
5 star:
 (209)
4 star:
 (127)
3 star:
 (43)
2 star:
 (21)
1 star:
 (11)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


177 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly done. Lovely tale of delightful intrigue
Having just finished reading "The Villa in Italy", quite honestly I wish I hadn't. It had become a restful yet highly entertaining companion for those private relaxing moments which are so special in life. It also gave me food for thought, which is always an excellent diet.

The four main characters are drawn to the Villa Dante by being named in the will of the...
Published on 10 April 2007 by Jenna

versus
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt by the style
The magical effect on four strangers brought together for a month in Italy is a theme previously explored by Elizabeth von Arnim in `The Enchanted April'. The reasons for their being in Italy differ, but the spell cast, and the effect on troubled lives, is similar. In `The Villa in Italy', the contrast with post-war austerity makes the month in the villa all the more...
Published on 8 Sep 2008 by Suzie


‹ Previous | 1 242 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

177 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly done. Lovely tale of delightful intrigue, 10 April 2007
By 
Jenna (Greater Manchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
Having just finished reading "The Villa in Italy", quite honestly I wish I hadn't. It had become a restful yet highly entertaining companion for those private relaxing moments which are so special in life. It also gave me food for thought, which is always an excellent diet.

The four main characters are drawn to the Villa Dante by being named in the will of the deceased owner, a lady who is a complete stranger to them all. Beatrice Malaspina soon becomes a richly engrossing enigma and her cleverly laid plan creates an atmosphere where they begin to interact with each other at a deeper level, and to shine a torch into all the dusty corners of their lives. Gradually, as the mystery starts to unravel amid the magnificent yet tranquil magic of the Italian coastal landscape, the characters learn the truth about the whens, whys and wherefores of their visit. Then the healing can begin and the myriad gifts contained in the will can be discovered and accepted.

This author writes with a gently flowing style which is totally absorbing and the story is populated with well drawn characters who are easy to become attached to and interested in. What isn't easy is the predictability of any of the outcomes. Ms Edmondson never telegraphs much about the details of her plot before they are revealed, providing the reader with a constant flow of surprises to keep the pages turning.

This is the second of Elizabeth Edmondson's books I have read, and I relish her style and great ability to weave a clever mystery.

If I have one complaint it would be that I find it hard to believe that these characters could suddenly take so much time off from their daily lives at such short notice to spend a month or so in Italy. There again I think that could be just plain old jealousy!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written mystery, 19 Feb 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
Having read The Frozen Lake I was keen to read another of Elizabeth Edmondson's novels and have not been disappointed. Four strangers collect at the Italian home of the late Beatrice Malaspina, drawn there by a legacy to each of them which they can only claim if they can find a codicil to her will. None of them knew the deceased, and their gradual discovery, first about their own lives, and then about how they are connected with her, is a fascinating and wonderfully written tale. Ms Edmonson perfectly captures the sense of peace and calm that they all find at the villa, and I found it hard to put down. Little of the outcome can be guessed at, and if I have a tiny complaint it is that so much is unravelled in the final few pages, and I wanted a few more to find out how they all settled after discovering the truth. Though perhaps it was just that I didn't want the book to end. I am a big fan of her writing style and look forward to reading more by her. Many books I purchase get passed on or given to the charity bins, but this is one to put back on the shelf to be enjoyed again sometime. Highly recommended if you like Rosamund Pilcher, Michelle Pavey.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex Mystery, 22 Aug 2007
By 
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
Ive recently read this book, and enjoyed it very much. It is very well written and researched, and the location of the Villa Dante is described beautifully. The author goes to great lengths to build a visual image of the villa, the town, beach and other areas, which truly sets a wonderful scene. The story itself if well thought out, and is complex in areas, but can be followed easily. Again it is full of small details which make it more realsistic. The characters are all very well developed, and we get a good insight into what they are all like at home, and in this unusual situation. I do agree with a previous reader that the only flaw is they do seem to 'gel' together awfully quickly and with great ease, even though they are complete strangers in a country unfamilar to them in this possible dangerous situation. The ending I felt was good, but seemed rushed. The whole book is full of long description and detail, and then suddenly the end is revealed to us in a matter of paragraphs, and is not what you expect. Still a very satisfing ending though.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt by the style, 8 Sep 2008
By 
Suzie (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
The magical effect on four strangers brought together for a month in Italy is a theme previously explored by Elizabeth von Arnim in `The Enchanted April'. The reasons for their being in Italy differ, but the spell cast, and the effect on troubled lives, is similar. In `The Villa in Italy', the contrast with post-war austerity makes the month in the villa all the more magical.

Whilst I first read `The Enchanted April' many years ago and have since re-read it, I would not bother to re-read `The Villa in Italy'. Even so, it is not without merit. It is an intriguing puzzle that revolves around the will of the late Beatrice Malaspina who, strong-minded while living, dominates the story even from the grave. The legatees hail from disparate backgrounds. They had never met their benefactress and had no idea why they were named in her will. Apart from loose hints and a tenuous link with George, an atomic physicist who knew Beatrice Malaspina's daughter, there are few clues as to why they have been selected or how the old lady knew so much about them. Then all is revealed in a rush in the final pages.

At times the story felt far-fetched and unreal, but what spoilt it for me was the style. Much of the dialogue seemed unnatural (it would sound worse, no doubt, if read aloud), and elsewhere the text was awkward and stilted. The language needed tightening to remove superfluous words and unnecessary adjectives. For all that, it's a pleasant enough read if you fancy something light and unchallenging, but you're not missing much if you give it a miss.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, 20 July 2007
By 
Janice Pickup "Avid reader" (Yorkshire England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
This story was a wonderful experience of observation and a great build up to the final chapter, you feel as though the characters are your friends or even your relatives going through this wonderful Italian mystery, the story is told in such a way that you feel as though you are lay on the terrace watching everything unfolding, I was never once disappointed with the twist and turns of the story.
The author has spent just the right time on each characters, you know how they will react to a situation,the details that they see are explained in such an in depth exciting way that you can see them too!
A fabulous read that unfolds and captures you to the very last page.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who needs enemies with families like these?, 25 Jan 2007
By 
Jane Baker "jan-bookcase" (Somerset) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Hardcover)
I've read Edmondson's 2 previous novels which were excellent so approached this with great expectations. This was as complex as the others with an extremely original plot and fascinating characters, especially Lucius,but it was a bit far-fetched and gelled too well. Readers want a complete ending of course, but somehow this was a bit beyond belief for me. I did like the Greek references, however, which reminded me a little of Fowles's The Magus - on a simpler level. Edmondson might have been trying too hard for the opus magnum and for me it didn't quite work. I enjoyed the book, especially the flashbacks of Marjorie, George and Lucius, but it was a bit too neat. I'll look for her next novel however. Hope it's a bit shorter too - I found myself skim reading some bits and that does detract from the enjoyment. It never fully gripped me but I knew I had to finish it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 Jun 2010
By 
Allhug (Newcatle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
Not an impressive read but still readable. There was something that made me read to the end but the mystery was a bit of a damp squib in the end - the thing they were looking for was found in a very obvious place. The bequests were very straightforward and obvious. Very disappointing.

Also, the characters were a little undeveloped. For some characters there wasn't enough background, for some they weren't as well rounded out as I'd have liked. I also didn't like the introduction of so many new characters towards the end of the story. Because of this underdevelopment there wasn't enough motivation behind their choices, for example George suddenly re-discovering his faith - this requires a bit more explanation, as does the evil that is Richie and the woodenness that is Theo and Flicka. - There were quite a few bits and pieces that jarred terribly - Lord Saltford didn't live up to Delia's descriptions of him but her feelings were never adequately explained or at least not in enough emotional depth, the reaction to Boswell was odd and unreal.

In fact, emotional depth is the key to what was lacking in this story. There were a lot of literary devices designed to instigate this sort of reader engagement but for me it was very clumsy. - I like to forget that I'm reading a novel, I want to enter into the spirit of the 'truth' of the story. I never forgot that there was an author who'd written this book and that spoiled it for me. - That may seem like an odd comment given that all books have authors, but I feel that the best books make you forget you're reading a novel and transport you directly into the action of the story. This never happened for me with this novel.

I was also very disappointed by the missed chances to delve into history, not enough in this book about Dante (despite the title), that Cardinal from the painting, the A-Bomb, the ATS etc etc - all of these things could have given the novel more depth but it was seriously lacking in historical grounding...and what exactly was it with all the lord of the rings stuff? Completely incongruous.

...but I did like the setting.

All round, this was a disappointing read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really great read, 8 Feb 2009
By 
John Meanwood (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
This was onother book that sat on my bookshelf for a couple of months, because I bought it to fill an order to get free P&P (when free P&P was £15) and thought it would be a romantic type book aimed at women. In a way it is, but that would not be to say that men shouldn't read it too.

Four people who do not know each other are invited to a villa in Italy by someone they have never heard of, in order to find out if they have benefited from the last will & testament left by the person who invited them. To go any further would spoil the plot, sufficed to say it is a very engrossing read and one that only took me two days to finish.

This is one of those novels that you will keep remembering and if, like me, you give your books away after you have read them, you will find yourself buying another copy so that you can read it again. I, for one, would be really interested in a sequel which told of their lives in Italy after the first book ended.

Other books I would recommend are:

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Secret Life of Bees
The Forgotten Garden
The Savage Garden
Crow Lake
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good story spoilt by the language, 20 July 2009
By 
Carole A. Hailey (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
I thought the premise of the story was interesting and I did want to know what happened. However I found the dialogue intensly annoying, so much so that I couldn't lose myself in the book as I generally do when reading and found it a very frustrating read. The language was contrived and stiled. If you are a forgiving reader, better able than I am to switch off the irritating part of your mind which will say "there's no way that they would speak like that" then the plot makes this book worth a read. If however you'd be inclined to let really quite appalling dialogue (in places) get in the way, then I'd suggest that this book is not for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really mundane book, hated it!, 6 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Villa in Italy (Paperback)
I have to disagree with most of these reviews. I would have tossed this book in the waste paper basket after chapter 2, if it hadn't been the chosen book of the month for my reading group. I found the language mundane and the writing sloppy. A drive through the French countryside is described as a travelling down a straight road lined with trees, the only other person being a man on a bicycle, wearing a beret. I mean, honestly, this is so banal; she could do better than that surely? In Paris, a character sips a cafe au lait, but two sentences on its described as a dark, bitter, liquid. Her characters are as hackneyed as her prose; cunning politicians, dreary tight-lipped lawyers. This book reminded me of something I might glance at if stuck in a holiday cottage on a rainy afternoon with nothing else to read, or perhaps an afternoon serial on day-time television.

A waste of an interesting plot, albeit with a very trite ending, the novelist failed to ignite any passion for me in her writing style. I don't know whether this was a first novel but, going back to those initial 2 chapters, it certainly read that way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 242 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Villa in Italy
The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson (Paperback - 4 Dec 2006)
£8.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews