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.
A Conversation With Alyson Richman
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