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Cover for Italian Fever

Italian Fever

A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)

Valerie Martin


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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.

Praise For Italian Fever: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)

“Martin captures what it's like to be an American woman it Italy. Forget those myths of romance and mystery. What Lucy finds far more valuable are friendship and the discovery of artistic treasures and Italian cuisine.” —USA Today

Italian Fever slyly dismantles its own satire and casts a long mysterious shadow over everything that has come before.” —The New Yorker

“Martin's… gifts are evident in her strong delineation of a not-as-sensible-as-she-seems heroine and a poignant portrait of a mediocre…novelist whose final manuscript stumbles into something approximating art.” —Elle

“Taut, honed and surprising.” —Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

“A rich literary stew.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Martin goes head-to-head with some big names (Henry James, E.M. Forster) and comes up aces…. A heart-stopping, expert, and entirely contemporary novel.” —Ann Arensberg, author of Incubus

“An absolute joy to read…a wise, intelligent novel.” —Amanda Craig, author of Love in Idleness

“Sophisticated…elegant, honest, devilishly witty.” –Hartford Courant

Italian Fever is a spectacular book-skillfully designed, wildly imaginative, with a startling mix of a playful, romantic, and nightmarish confrontations.” —Joanna Scott, author of Manikin

“Intriguing…both literal and metaphorical.” —The Orlando Sentinel

“Graceful and gently amusing.” —Salon

Italian Fever is a pleasure that sticks to and tickles the ribs.” —Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love

“Captivating…. In this smart, taut tale, Valerie Martin has captured the spirit of a place, merged it into a seamless narrative, and reminded us of the power of art to alter our lives. A beautifully written, compelling novel.” —Mary Morris, author of Nothing to Declare

"Spellbinding. . . . A virtuoso. . . . Martin's competence has kindled into brilliance." —The New York Times Book Review

"Entertainment apart . . . Martin has written a novel of ideas." —The New York Times

"Acutely observed… charmingly old-fashioned." —Los Angeles Times

"Filled with suspense and surprise in the telling." —The Boston Globe

Vintage, 9780375705229, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 9, 2000

About the Author

Valerie Martin is the author of six novels, including The Great Divorce and Mary Reilly.  She lives in upstate New York.