Fic­tion

The Gar­den of Letters

  • Review
By – April 29, 2014

The author of The Lost Wife has pro­duced anoth­er beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten roman­tic and trag­ic wartime nov­el. Set in Portofi­no and Verona, Italy, with glimpses of Africa, The Gar­den of Let­ters tells two love sto­ries a decade apart, both involv­ing Ange­lo Rosel­li, a doc­tor in his small vil­lage, watched over by a kom­man­dant in Mussolini’s fas­cist régime. Elodie Bertolot­ti is a cel­lo prodi­gy liv­ing in Verona with her lov­ing par­ents. A seri­ous polit­i­cal inci­dent affect­ing her father leads her to secret­ly join the resis­tance move­ment. There she meets oth­er young peo­ple will­ing to take risks for their coun­try, includ­ing Luca, who devis­es a plan to use Elodie’s musi­cal prowess to aid the cause. The oth­er love sto­ry con­cerns Ange­lo, mar­ried to Dalia, who is expect­ing their baby. He is draft­ed into the army to serve as a doc­tor in Africa. His lov­ing let­ters sus­tain her through the long months. His expe­ri­ences over­seas lead to much mis­ery abroad and back home. The con­ver­gence of these sad sto­ry lines is inevitable. Fans of Richman’s pre­vi­ous nov­els are sure to love this one, which teach­es the read­er about Italy’s role in World War II and about the pow­er of music.

Relat­ed content:


A Con­ver­sa­tion With Alyson Richman 

As part of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Club pro­gram, we will be host­ing six online talks through­out the year. Our sec­ond con­ver­sa­tion was on Jan­u­ary 27 with Alyson, the author of The Gar­den of Let­ters

Did you miss the live event? You can watch the con­ver­sa­tion here!


Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams is a Cuban-born, Brook­lyn-raised, Long Island-resid­ing mom. She is Hadas­sah Nas­sau’s One Region One Book chair­la­dy, a free­lance essay­ist, and a cer­ti­fied yoga instruc­tor who has loved review­ing books for the JBC for the past ten years.

Discussion Questions