Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 2nd 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN:0425266257 (ISBN13: 9780425266250)

From Goodreads:

Set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodie’s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.

My thoughts: Any book with WWII as the backdrop usually merits a look from me, but Richman is particularly deft with this scenario. All the horrors of wartime and the difficulty of living are so well done, it is as if I were right there along with the characters.

In this story, Elodie, our heroine, is a young and very talented violinist just coming of age in the most difficult of circumstances. Seeing her homeland invaded and her way of life abruptly changed, Elodie does what she must in order to live with her conscience and try to help the resistance. Falling in love was not part of her plan but it just happened and Elodie finds herself having to make some very difficult choices and then dealing with those choices,

" Elodie wonders, if beneath the schoolgirl uniform, her mother can see the change in her. That her daughter has discovered that it isn't only music that can articulate the beauty and mystery of the world. That now she knows that the heart has it's own rhythm and breath has it's own pulse, and there is nothing in this world that makes you feel more alive than a simple touch of a beloved's hand."

In The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman pens her usual beautiful, lyrical writing; words to be savored right along with the plot. All of Richman's characters come to life vividly on the page, so much so, that my heart was fully engaged along with my mind.

Alyson Richman is also the author of  The Lost Wife, one of my all time favorite reads.  4****

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Berkley Trade/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


  1. This is going on my TBR. Thanks for the review

  2. Sounds like another winner from Richman.

  3. I like this time period too. Currently reading All The Light We Cannot See.

  4. Her first book was and is still a favorite of mine, so I must read this one!!

  5. I received this book as a contest win, so after reading your review, I want to move it up on my list! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I loved The Lost Wife and am glad to hear this one is good, too! Thanks for the review, Kaye.

  7. Sounds good, glad you enjoyed this one!


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