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The Villa in Italy Hardcover – 4 Sep 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 597 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Library edition edition (4 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007228058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007228058
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 14.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (597 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Praise for Voyage of Innocence:
‘I loved it’ Woman

‘A very interesting book, not only because it gives a flavour of life in the thirties…it’s a way of imbibing history’ Oxford Times

‘Well written and superbly researched…a thoroughly enjoyable read. A must.’ Yours

Praise for The Frozen Lake:
‘Charming’ Bookseller

‘Dark family secrets, long buried,if not forgotten, bubble to the surface. A novel that is vivid and engrossing.’ Choice

‘An intriguing read’ Woman

About the Author

Elizabeth Edmondson was born in Chile and educated in Calcutta and London before going to Oxford University. Her novels include The Villa in Italy, The Villa on the Riviera, Voyage of Innocence and The Frozen Lake, which have been translated into several languages.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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