I’ve been reading a lot of Santa Montefiore lately, so a general post was really necessary.
I was introduced to Ms. Montefiore with Sea of Lost Love. I read it a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it and put a few of her other books on my list, but I never got to them. Last month, I picked up her newest release, The Mermaid Garden from the library, and as soon I finished it, I immediately got on my computer and reserved as many of her titles as I could. The Italian Matchmaker and The French Gardener arrived in rapid succession and were returned just as rapidly because I devoured them within 48 hours. The Gypsy Madonna and Last Voyage of the Valentina are currently in my “to be read” pile, and I can’t wait.
The setting was what initially attracted me to Ms. Montefiore’s books; each novel is set in the English or the Italian countryside, sometimes both, and these areas almost always have a transforming effect on the discontented main characters. As an Anglo- and Italophile who has experienced this sort of transformation first hand, I could very easily relate to those aspects of Ms. Montefiore’s books. As an added bonus, the descriptions of these beautiful places make each book like a virtual vacation.
The stories themselves move between the past and the present, and I love being able to see the direct corellation between the two. As far as plots are concerned, some are better than others. I thought The Mermaid Garden and The French Gardener covered all bases as far as character development and plot resolutions were concerned, while The Italian Matchmaker went a little too fast ended a little too cleanly.
And there is always a consistent underlying theme, a moral if you will: love, family, and enjoyment of the simple things will lead to contentment. The city girl in me bridles over the emphasis on how happiness can only be found in the countryside, and I feel that very occasionally Ms. Montefiore can veer in the direction of trite–for example, in one of the books a character who began as a cynical, almost apathetic man, gave what I thought was an extremely out of character speech filled with every cliché about love. But those are principles that I try to live by, and even if it doesn’t come off as entirely believable, I love to read it anyway.
The other thing that I really love about Ms. Montefiore’s books is that I completely escape into them; I open the cover to read and next thing I know, I’ve gotten through 50 pages and it’s good that I looked up or I’d miss my stop on the train. Those books are special.
Who are your “must read” authors?