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An Italian Secret by Ella Carey. Review.

Book Description

Tuscany, 1944. Did she fight for the resistance or betray her people?

When the Nazis storm into northern Italy, Contessa Evelina Messina, the owner of the beautiful Villa Rosa, welcomes the Germans to her valley. In a dazzling rose silk dress, she entertains soldiers with priceless wine from her ancient cellars. Privately, she tells the townspeople this will keep the enemy at bay, but her disguise is so good, it is impossible to tell on which side her heart truly belongs…

Years later, American Annie Reynolds gazes up at the peach-coloured walls of the magnificent, empty house. Grieving deeply for her beloved father, Annie remembers his last words before he slipped away—he told her she was adopted and that the Villa Rosa was her birthright. Desperate for answers, Annie’s heart breaks when the locals tell her the Contessa had a child with a Nazi. She is devastated and ready to turn away from her dark past.

But everything changes when Annie uncovers a musty old diary from 1944 amongst the Contessa’s belongings. Pages have been meticulously cut out and Annie is sure these missing entries hold the clue to her past. As she frantically searches old papers, Annie sees how hard the Contessa worked to keep her people safe and wonders if the locals’ stories are wrong. Can Annie find the Contessa’s missing child, born at the end of the war? And will discovering the truth about what happened alter the course of her own life for good?

An utterly gripping, sweeping page-turner that will transport you to the olive groves of Tuscany. With a truly heartbreaking family secret from World War Two at its heart, fans of Kathryn Hughes, Fiona Valpy and Victoria Hislop will be enchanted.


Review for 'An Italian Secret' by Ella Carey.

Read and reviewed via NetGalley for Ella Carey, Bookouture publishers and Bookouture anonymous

Publication date 22nd September 2023.

This is the first book I have read by this author. It is also the first book in the 'Daughters Of Italy' series.

This novel consists of 52 chapters. The chapters are short to medium in length so easy to read 'just one more chapter' before bed...OK, I know yeah right, but still just in case!

'An Italian Secret' discusses some topics that may upset some readers or may not be suitable for others. I like to point this out ahead of time in my reviews so you can judge if this book is for you or not. In this book Ella discusses/includes War, violence and s3xu@1 @$$@ult.

This book is beautifully written with vivid descriptions setting the picture perfectly in the readers mind. The title, description and cover works perfectly with the storyline.

What an absolutely beautiful , emotional and immersive read!! This book is devastatingly heartbreaking and beautiful. It is an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions filled with heartbreak, family, love, loss, deceit, tension, secrets, friendship, revolutions, war, perseverance, violence and so much more. Ella's writing and descriptions are so evocative I really felt I was write next to both Annie and Cara during the present and past. Reading this book really does make you feel that you are standing with them and going through their pain, love, struggles and suffering. While you are reading this you are going through a journey of love and loss, heartbreak, secrets, deceit, love and so, so much more. It really is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I had tears absolutely streaming down my face by the time the ending(s) came. Ella has clearly done her history research. Well done Ella as there's nothing much worse that reading a novel filled with silly errors as the author hasn't done any research. The two stories are woven together perfectly and each of the chapters ended in a way I just HAD to know what was going to happen next!! You need to clear your schedules and get the tissues at the ready because you will not be able to put this book down and it had me in tears by the end and I do not cry easily!!! This is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. This book isn't just gorgeous but also incredibly thought provoking and shows so much human emotion. I loved that there is so much going on that it completely sucks the reader into the pages from beginning to end.

It is set over multiple time lines. When books show what has happened in the past and what is happening in the present I find it really helps the reader (if it is well done) understand why things are happening and what has lead to the present activities and decisions. It also shows the bigger picture.

It is always worrying when starting a new series as you have no idea who the characters are. It is very important for me to bond with not only the lead protagonists but also any characters that may make repeat appearances during the series too.

The characters are strong, realistic and I became completely invested in both Annie and Cara along with so many of the other characters involved. I felt each of their pain, heartbreak, betrayal, happiness, heartbreak, love , anger, sorrow and so much more. They were both fighters with so much determination and perseverance that I just couldn't help love them both!! My heart broke for each of them who went through (but I can't say more as I don't want to spoil the storyline for anyone) . Both women were such strong protagonists and being female myself I live seeing strong kick butt women fighting for the truth, peace and answers. Although it was mainly through Annie and Cara's eyes that the story unfolds there are several many other characters that were affected by all the events and the emotions charging through the characters and I was completely invested in them all. Each and every one of them came to life every time I turned a page. I won't say anymore about the characters as I don't want to go into too much detail at the risk of spoiling it for other readers but Ella has done an amazing job at bringing each of the characters to life. Well done Ella!!!

Overall an absolutely unputdownable, thought provoking, addictive and compelling devastatingly beautiful, heartwarming and heartbreaking book!!!

Make sure you read to the very end of the book to read the first three chapters of Ella's 'A New York Secret' which promises to be just as beautiful and emotional as this book and one I'm looking forward to reading myself!

331 pages.

This book is just 99p to purchase on kindle, free with kindle unlimited and £7.99 in paperback at time of review, via Amazon which I think is an absolute bargain for this book!!!

Rated 4/5 (I LOVED it ) on Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon UK and Amazon US and on over 30 Facebook pages plus my blog on Facebook.

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Author Bio:

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.

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