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4.3 out of 5 stars1,684
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 31 July 2012
I loved this book; it's both delicate and substantial. The three main leads are vividly drawn and likeable and I felt I knew them well and understood the dynamics of their relationships with one another by the end of the book. I particularly liked the vividness of the setting; both the Sicily of Flavia's youth and that of Tess's now. I also liked how the male characters are drawn; they are physical and their stories matter very much too. Colour and flavour dominate and, after each of Flavia's chapters, I would find myself rootling in the cupboards for something tasty to eat! A really enjoyable read!
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on 21 June 2012
Tess has always known that asking questions about her mother Flavia's early life in Sicily is forbidden; but when she mysteriously inherits a villa in her mothers hometown her curiosity forces her to seek out answers. The Villa weaves together the lives and loves of three generation of women, Flavia, Tess and Tess's daughter Ginny. Exploring relationships across these intertwined lives creates a story accessible for readers of any age.

Tess realises her life has hit a rut, a dead end job and relationship with a married man are taking her nowhere fast. She decides she must go against her mother's wishes and visit Ceteria, Sicily and visit the villa she now owns. As she begins to explore the sun-bleached village and crystal blue sea, Tess quickly realises Sicily is as complex as it is beautiful. Every person she meets has a story and grudge to keep from her. Tess struggles to sift through all the complications and find out exactly why the mysterious Edward Westerman left her his villa.

The narrative jumps between Ginny in England, Tess in Sicily and Flavia reliving her escape from Sicily as a young woman, and all the secrets of her past. I found myself drawn to Flavia, her character felt very real and passionate, and whilst frustrating little detail is given away right up to the end, you just can't help appreciate her strength. In contrast I found Ginny's voice a little more jarring at the start. I wasn't sure if it was just an annoying teenage thing, but for the first section of the book she doesn't come across particularly likable. Although after a few crisis moments her character does appear to grow up and the narrative gets into its stride a little easier.

The book is very much a human story, brimming with emotion, and full of heart. It is about wanting to protect those you love, to the point where you could be doing more hurt than good. But I think mostly it is about family and all the drama that follows. It is a fantastic holiday read, this book is like a dream you want to fall into, or a fantasy to run away with. By the end it will quench a desire for adventure you didn't know you had. I will be reading it again and again this summer and probably for many to come.
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on 1 October 2014
This is a hard to book to rate and to review. There were factors that made me love it and factors that made me want to give up! The story itself was interesting and exciting enough to keep me hooked. That is despite the fact the story is pretty far-fetched. There was lots going on, and flipped from one timeline to another, and from one person's life story to another. A style that irks some, but I rather like. A couple of the storylines were particularly absorbing, and had me gripped.
Unfortunately, I struggled with the writing style. The repetitive use of '...' drove me crazy! I closed the book and went off to do something else at times, because of this. It ended sentences, began them, and randomly appeared in the middle of some! The author is also fond of using brackets in the middle of a sentence and then going into so much detail within them, that by the time you get to the closed bracket and read the second half of the sentence you have forgotten the first half. Half-finished sentences ending in ..., brackets with too much lengthy detail within, and incorrect comma usage, and lack thereof, makes this a very clumsily flowing book to read. I also hate the fact the teenage girl in it uses exclamations such as "Jumping jellyfish!", "Perishing pelicans!" and "Galloping guinea pigs!" Throughout the book this verges on becoming insufferable! Who says those sorts of things? Certainly not teenagers!
The book also contains a lot of descriptive detail about food, including full recipes with lovingly described methods. I'm not a foodie so this was annoying and boring, and meant having to skip large chunks of text. I wanted to read a novel, not a cook book!
In summary, it's an enjoyable and, at times, exciting story with several tales interwoven. However, it's far-fetched, unbelievable, full of unnecessary cooking recipes and confusingly bad punctuation.
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on 24 January 2015
Not the sort of book I usually read, but thought it would be fun for a change. Unfortunately I didn't think it was well written, the plots were unconvincing, annoyingly punctuated by stupid expressions as "galloping guinea pigs" and "zippedy zebras" etc. I felt the characters didn't ring true and it was in my opinion, a pretty meaningless piece of literature. I wouldn't recommend this book.
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on 20 June 2012
I picked up this book at the airport and couldn't put it down! One of those books that captures you in from the start. Would highly recommend - I am now longing to visit Sicily :)
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on 7 August 2012
It is a while since I have bought a book that kept me reading until the early hours. But this one was it! I admit to having chosen it for it's title and the cover, ( I wanted something 'Sunny' to take me away from our drab weather, and a story about Sicily seemed just the thing.)
I can almost always finish a book and find some little thing that niggled me, but not this time. it was pure escapism without too much sex, too much overworked description and free recipies thrown in. It was just lovely. Well done Rosanna, I shall look forward to your next.
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on 20 June 2012
I have just finished reading The Villa, an extremely engaging, wonderful read! I would recommend it to those longing for a bit of escapism and mystery, I couldnt put it down...
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on 3 August 2012
Sigh. Why is it that characters in books so often inherit gorgeous old houses abroad from complete strangers? That just never happens in real life, does it? Needless to say, though the plot of this book is admittedly a bit cliché in places, pick it up and you're guaranteed a great summer read. I mean, the gorgeous cover just screams `sunshine' and a girly romance, and happily, that's just what I got when I gave this a try.

In the novel we meet Tess, a single mum to 18-year-old Ginny, who unexpectedly inherits a Sicilian villa from a complete stranger, though a stranger apparently well-known to her mother Flavia. As the novel unfolds we learn about Flavia's past in Sicily during WWII, a forbidden romance, feuding Sicilian families and the secrets of a hidden treasure...

I found myself absorbed in this novel pretty quickly- the writing is very evocative with its great details of food, the Sicilian coastline and also the rugged Dorset coastline where we initially meet Tess. Character development for Tess and Flavia in particular, is well-done. As the book progresses, it lapses into a two story approach, with flashbacks to Flavia's past as we get to learn more about her life growing up in Sicily. I think that this was carried out successfully and it was well-balanced, with not too much given to either Tess or Flavia's story- equal attention was paid to both. I also found myself interested in the possible romance aspect for Tess in particular- with the apparent choice of two hunky men (one a bit of a pantomime villain!), I was intrigued to see who she would choose.

So, what didn't I like so much about this novel? Without giving away any spoilers, some characters did feel a bit `dropped in' at the last minute and weren't greatly developed. Some characters I liked more than others, which is to be expected but I do have to say that one other thing that really, REALLY irritated me about this novel was Ginny's `voice' and the stupid phrases she used when she was deriding herself for any reason. `Jumping jellyfish' and `lolloping lemurs' (I kid you not) are really not part of any teenagers' vocabulary of curse words. I found these turns of phrase to be so incredibly jarring and a bit off-putting, particularly when the author had no issue with her other older characters swearing elsewhere in the text. A teenager would probably far rather use bad language than embarrass themselves by thinking such ridiculous phrases. Also, given that a lot of attention is paid to the food of Siciliy, it would have perhaps been a lovely idea to include a proper breakdown of the recipes at the end of the book.

Issues with teenager's aside, I did find this novel to be a lovely summer read- I think if you are a fan of Erica James or Santa Montefiore's then you would enjoy this book a lot. This would make an excellent book for the beach or by the pool- it's great to dip in and out of and the lush descriptions of Sicily and Villa Sirena make me want to head somewhere hot and sunny in a really big way!
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on 7 August 2014
Not sure why I persevered with this now! A predictable, pedantic, repetitive yawn is how I would assess this novel. The setting of Sicily is interesting but the Sicilian characters seemed more like caricatures than real people. I also question whether the author actually knows any 18 year olds because I have yet to meet one that repeats trite phrases like 'meandering meerkats' or 'lolloping lemurs'. That totally got on my nerves. The story was drawn out in an irritating fashion and the author felt the need to constantly state the blooming obvious. Descriptions were quite often totally unnecessary and did not add to the story. The fact that Tessa was left the house in the first place was never really satisfactorily explained but by then I had ceased to care.
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on 6 September 2014
Bought this as it was on offer and had great reviews but was quite disappointed. The story itself was fairly good for a light holiday read, but the main thing for me that has caused me to leave a review is the strange ending. It feels like it is some sort of "big reveal", but unless I am totally inept I have missed what is being disclosed. I even read back a few pages to see if I had missed something as I thought that all of the "mysteries" had been cleared up, but from what I can see I must have missed something really obvious or it's a cliff hanger for a sequel. The book went from a fair light fiction to an massive irritation in the last few lines. I have no idea what happened and would welcome anyone else that has read the book explaining it to me as I must have lost my marbles.

If you're looking for a light summer read then this is a reasonable choice, it's not addictive but it's ok, however for me the ending was a disappointment.
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