By Valerie Martin
(Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780375705229, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 9, 2000
List Price: $13.00*
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"Acutely observed...charmingly old-fashioned."--Los Angeles Times
In Italian Fever, Valerie Martin redefines the Gothic novel in a compelling tale of one woman's headlong tumble into a mystery, art, and eros.
Part romance, part gothic suspense story and wholly entertaining, Italian Fever is the story of the awakening of Lucy Stark, an American pragmatist. Lucy leads a quiet, solitary life working for a best-selling (but remarkably untalented) writer. When he dies at his villa in Tuscany, Lucy flies to Tuscany to settle his affairs. What begins as a grim chore soon threatens Stark's Emersonian self-reliance--and her very sense of what is real. The villa harbors secrets: a missing manuscript, neighbors whose Byzantine arrogance veils their dark past, a phantom whose nocturnal visits tear a gaping hole in Lucy's well-honed skepticism. And to complicate matters: Massimo, a married man whose tender attentions render Lucy breathless.
Smart, sophisticated, achingly beautiful, Italian Fever is one of the most original and compelling novels of the year.