THE ITALIAN WIFE is published this week!
I am very excited that THE ITALIAN WIFE is already receiving great reviews. Here is a fab one from Emma Crowley on SHAZ’S BOOK BLOG today:
“Kate Furnivall’s latest release The Italian Wife is easily her best yet. I feel like I say that whenever I read one of her books but it is true with this her eighth release. Kate is an author who can turn her hand to any setting or time in history and taking us back to Mussolini’s rule in 1930’s Italy certainly proved an eye opener for me. With one of the best opening chapters I have read in a long time, you are instantly drawn into the intriguing story of young architect Isabella Berotti. Kate’s books are exciting to read and a superb story always unravels but this one was extra special. This multi-layered epic was packed full of mystery and suspense, real edge of your seat stuff as Isabella becomes embroiled in the story of a young girl named Rosa and the search for her own husband’s killer.
Isabella is living in Bellina with her father, ten years years on from the shooting which killed her husband Luigi and left her childless and suffering from damage to her back and leg. This incident has had a profound effect on her and she knows someone out there must have some clues as to why her adored husband was shot. Yes he was one of Mussolini’s Blackshirts but Isabella feels the root cause runs deeper. Even though Isabella had been through so much heartache and suffering I felt she was all the better for it as the events of the book would make a lesser woman crumble. Instead she uses every ounce of her energy to stand up to a cruel regime and find out the truth whether what she discovers will be to her liking or not. Having taken the day off on the anniversary of the shooting Isabella is sitting in a café when a woman approaches her saying she knows something about Luigi’s killer. Before she knows it the woman has jumped from a tower designed by Isabella leaving her young daughter Rosa behind. Isabella is left shocked and confused but torn in two she wants to know the truth about the incident so many years ago but also she knows Rosa cannot be left alone in this ever changing world.
Isabella begins the search for the truth, a journey which is filled with numerous twists and turns all of which kept me guessing as to the final outcome. Also it is a time of darkness and fear as hidden secrets come to light. She soon comes to realise she is part of a much bigger picture and she is merely a pawn in a huge game. Danger, unrest and betrayal are behind every corner as Isabella and handsome photographer Robert Falco do their best to uncover Rosa’s background and avenge Luigi’s death. The more I became engrossed in the story and Isabella’s determination to reveal the truth the more I realised she was a woman ahead of her time, a strong, determined woman who stands up for what she believes in. This was at a time when a women’s place was believed to be in the home producing more children to further the Italian people and make the country more powerful.
The author just really built and built upon the tension in the story I was desperate to know the history of Rosa and what connection she had to Isabella if any. There were so many layers to this story that I lost all sense of time and place as I couldn’t read quick enough. Throughout the novel we see Isabella bloom and she opens herself up more to love and life after her husbands death. This sums up perfectly the way we see a change occur within Isabella. ‘He had dragged her out of the safe numb state that she had wrapped around herself like a shell, he had cracked it wide open and brought her grasping into his warm, sensitive and passionate world but she had not been prepared for this version of love’
Kate Furnivall has the magic touch when it comes to writing historical fiction, she is adept at drawing you in right from the very first word. I felt as if I already knew these characters and was invested in a successful outcome for all concerned. There was no laborious setting up that can last for at least 150-200 pages in some books, the action started in chapter one and never stopped until the last paragraph. Packed full of historical information that was not overpowering but just made the story jump from the pages. The fact that the majority of what happened in the story is based on fact is amazing. Yes the town of Bellina is fictional but Mussolini did clear marshy swampland in order to build new towns and farmland to further his country and make them self sufficient in agricultural production.He ruled with an iron fist which emanated from the pages, his propaganda was unrelenting and one thing surprised me was that people were not allowed to gather in large numbers unless it was organised by the Fascist party itself. The scene where Mussolini was speaking at an outdoor rally was just brilliantly written. All the fear, panic and desperation at what occurs got me right in the heart. Often we never get to actually read of important historical figures interacting with the main characters. They are more spoken about and feared but here when Mussolini visits the architects office and Isabella stands up to him was a fantastic scene. The tension oozed from the page you just knew Isabella’s legs were shaking and the sweat dripping down her back.
People who have no interest in history or do not know much about Mussolini’s time in power would do well to read The Italian Wife. Kate Furnivall has captured the essence of the time and written a book full of conflict, courage and emotion that has stayed with me long after I finished the last page. This book would make a stunning film as the scenes from the last quarter of the book were like something from a big screen blockbuster. I would love to see this happen in the future. Don’t stop what you are doing Kate Furnivall this reader can’t wait to see what country and time in history you will take us to next.”
Exciting time!! My new book THE ITALIAN WIFE is published on 25 November in Australia and New Zealand. It is always a breath-holding moment when a new book is launched into a big wide world of waiting readers and I am thrilled that my loyal Australian and New Zealand readers will be getting their mitts on it for Christmas. But don’t worry if you are in the UK because THE ITALIAN WIFE will also be published on KINDLE on 25 Nov.
So champers all round!
What’s the book about?
It is set in beautiful Italy in 1932. Mussolini is in power and Fascism grips the country with an iron first. No one is safe.
One bright autumn morning, architect Isabella Berotti sits at a cafe in the vibrant piazza at the heart of the new town Bellina, when a woman she has never met asks her to watch her nine-year-old daughter, Rosa. Just for a moment. Reluctantly Isabella agrees – and then watches in horror as the woman climbs to the top of the town’s clock tower and steps over the edge. This tragic encounter forces Isabella to probe deep into the secrets of her own past and, with the help of charismatic photographer Roberto Falco, she discovers that some secrets are more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.
From the glittering marble piazzas to the picturesque hillside villages and winding streets of Rome, THE ITALIAN WIFE will take you on a complex journey of intrigue, romance and betrayal.
Why did I choose Italy?
I defy anyone not to fall in love with Italy, it is so enchanting. I have always wanted to set one of my books there, but was looking for the right story and the right setting. I like to embed my stories in tumultuous times, in fragile moments of history, and the regime of Mussolini provided exactly that. But it wasn’t until I heard about Il Duce’s ambitious draining of the Pontine Marshes, the ‘Agro Pontino’ – a mammoth undertaking – in order to build five new towns, that I knew I had found my precarious moment that would form the background to my story. My heroine Isabella is an architect who designs the town’s clock tower. When I travelled to Latina, one of Mussolini’s showpiece new towns 30 km south of Rome, I looked up at the magnificent clock tower and imagined what would be going through Isabella’s head when she sees the woman step off her tower. That moment changes Isabella’s life. She has to discover whether the man she loves has secrets that may prove him to be her greatest enemy …..
Everything about this fascinating time and place inspired me. I hope you will enjoy exploring them with me..
This was the view from my window.
I was riding a train. The light was draining from the sky and turning the dusty Egyptian landscape crimson when a hand in a black robe came from behind and thrust a bread roll, smelling of spicy meat, at me. It was followed by a torrent of Arabic, not one word of which I understood, but their meaning was clear. I was being urged to share a meal by a woman in the seat behind. ‘Shukrun,’ I smiled, dragging it out of my meagre cache of Egyptian words. ‘Thank you.’
Kindness to a stranger. It was so unexpected and touched something deep inside me. Yet I found Egypt overflowing with such gestures, and despite the riots that were currently well under way in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, I was treated with warmth and mint tea wherever I went.
So why a rattling 10 hour train journey – instead of a fast and sanitised plane – from Cairo to Luxor? It was because I was hungry to see the country. I wanted to be a part of it, my feet firmly set on its Nile-irrigated soil. For hour after hour on the train I was mesmerised by its landscape scrolling past my window, its distant pink escarpments drifting in and out of view, as elusive as its ancient gods. But that wasn’t the reason I was here. My characters, Jessie and Monty, take the same train in 1932 and I needed to experience Egypt through their eyes.
Life on the other side of the window was endlessly fascinating. We stopped every few miles, sometimes for no apparent reason but other times at bustling towns whose presence was announced from afar by pencil-thin minarets that pierced the blue sky. Black-shrouded women gathered in chattering groups to wash their clothes in the canal that ran parallel to the rail track, while men wearing loose galabayas fished in it and boys swam and dive-bombed its murky waters. White herons strutted at its edge and palm trees leaned gracefully over it, offering shade. I wanted to jump out and join them.
During that strange and oddly changeless day, I caught sight of markets bursting with colourful fruits and level crossings with no gates where goats and children wandered at will. Rubbish heaps spilled into the canal like ugly scars outside each town and everywhere there were donkeys, always donkeys, pulling carts or carrying men and bundles on their backs, dwarfed by their loads, their spindly legs sticking out under them like lollipop sticks.
But above all it was the kindness that lodged in my mind. I want to make that extraordinary journey again, but this time I’ll take a bag of spicy meat rolls with me to share with a stranger.
My UK publisher – Sphere/Little Brown – has done it again!
Not only did they come up with a moody and magnificent cover last December for the export edition of SHADOWS ON THE NILE, they have now produced a stunning new cover for the UK edition, to be published on 20 June 2013. Here it is – beautiful rich colours and a sweeping image of the Nile that makes the back of my neck tingle. Wonderfully evocative. Thank you, Little Brown.
Here it is – Publication Day in Australia and New Zealand (sorry UK and US, you have to wait until 2013).
Down-Under is doing me proud with impressive promotions. Hachette NZ’s Publisher’s Promise is amazing:- if you don’t like SHADOWS ON THE NILE, you get your money back. How cool is that? Boosts a gal’s confidence no end!
So what’s the book about? It’s 1932. Jessie Kenton is living a busy life in London in turbulent times when her brother Tim, an archaeologist of Egyptian artefacts, goes missing. Jessie vows to find him and teams up with Monty Chamford to follow a trail of clues that Tim has left in his wake. Together they decipher the clues that lead them to Egypt but there are powerful people who do not want her brother found. In the relentless heat of the desert Jessie and Monty fall in love, but nothing is as it seems. Jessie starts to wonder how much Monty really knows about her brother’s disappearance …. while death and deception stalk the Nile.
There is an element in the story that will come as a surprise, I think. It goes in a different direction from my other books – but I’m not going to reveal it here. You gotta read it to discover what it is! I hope you enjoy the journey.