The Mermaid Garden

The Mermaid Garden

3.6 15
by Santa Montefiore
     
 

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The internationally bestselling authorof The French Gardener presentsa complex and irresistibly compelling novel that confirms the remarkablepower of love to heal and transform.

Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into

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Overview


The internationally bestselling authorof The French Gardener presentsa complex and irresistibly compelling novel that confirms the remarkablepower of love to heal and transform.

Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens and imagine that one day she’ll escape her meager existence and live there surrounded by its otherworldly splendor. Then one day Dante, the son of the villa’s powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside and shows her the enchanting Mermaid Garden. From that moment, Floriana knows that the only destiny for her is there, in that garden, with Dante. But as they grow up and fall in love, their romance causes a crisis, jeopardizing the very thing they hold most dear.

Decades later and hundreds of miles away, a beau-tiful old country house hotel on England’s Devon coast has fallen on hard times after the financial crash of 2008. Its owner, Marina, advertises for an artist to stay the summer and teach the guests how to paint. The man she hires is charismatic and wise and soon begins to pacify the discord in her family and transform the fortunes of the hotel. However, he has his own agenda. Is it to destroy, to seduce, or to heal? Whatever his intentions, he is certain to change Marina’s life forever.

Spanning four decades and sweeping from the Italian countryside to the English coast, this new story by Santa Montefiore is a moving and mysterious tale of love, forgiveness, and the past revealed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two stories, two generations, and two beautiful European locales are neatly gift-wrapped into one sumptuous tale of love, loss, and redemption. In 1966, feisty 10-year-old Floriana Farussi, abandoned by her mother to the custody of an alcoholic father, falls madly in love with teenage Dante Bonfanti, heir to a wealthy Tuscan family. The young man is beguiled by Floriana's spunk and indomitable spirit, and eventually they realize theirs is a bond forged in heaven. In 2009, Marina and Grey Turner struggle to keep their tiny Devon hotel afloat by hiring an Argentine painter to instruct their guests. The gallant Rafa Santori promptly falls for Grey's beautiful and obstreperous daughter, Clementine. But happy endings will not come easily to these young couples as secrets, subterfuge, and stubbornness threaten their love at every turn. Montefiore's plot lacks surprises, but her prose more than compensates with luxurious and romantic depictions of scenic Tuscany and the beautiful English coast. (May)
Library Journal
Marina Turner is advertising for an artist in residence to spend the summer teaching residents of her Devon country house hotel how to paint. Desperate to attract enough guests to Hotel Polzanze to stave off financial disaster, she is thrilled when talented and handsome Rafa Santoro turns up. Sure enough, people flock to the charming painter, including Marina's miserable stepdaughter, Clementine. But Rafa has a hidden agenda, Marina has secrets, and Clementine seems unable to let go of past hurts. It is a testament to Montefiore's talent as a writer that the initially very unpleasant Clementine becomes more likable as the novel progresses and that change is convincingly shown to come about when Clementine finally allows herself to be happy. VERDICT Montefiore (The French Gardener) has written another lovely fairy tale for grown-ups, intertwining two stories separated by time and place. Fans of women's fiction will be moved by the characters and eager to find out what happens to them. Lush descriptions of gardens in Tuscany and Devon add to the novel's charm, and the beautiful cover is sure to attract the eye.—Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA
Kirkus Reviews

An Englishwoman with a mysterious past struggles to hold on to a country hotel.

In 1966, Floriana, a girl from a tiny Tuscan village, discovers a walled garden and an attached villa belonging to a wealthy industrialist, Beppe, who allegedly has Mafia connections. Scaling the wall, Floriana is soon befriended by Beppe's son, Dante, and the family dog, Good-Night. Cut to 2009: Marina, who with her husband Grey and a few loyal retainers transformed a Devonshire mansion into the charmingly rustic Hotel Polzanze, fears that mounting debt may force them to sell the place. Grey's adult children, Jake and Clementine, have never warmed to Marina since she broke up their father's first marriage when they were youngsters. Clementine in particular has been in a sulk since family finances forced her to return from travels in India to take a dull office job. Egged on by her officemate Sylvia, she dates a lager lout she doesn't really care for. But when handsome Rafa, an Italian-Argentinean painter, arrives at Polzanze to give art lessons to elderly guests, Clementine is utterly entranced. By 1971, Floriana has grown into a beautiful young woman, and when Dante returns from his college studies he vows eternal love. However, Beppe will never approve of his heir-apparent's marriage to a lower-class girl whose father is the town drunk; instead he pressures Dante to court Costanza, daughter of an impoverished count. But when Dante and Floriana have an ill-advised tryst, her resulting pregnancy will create an embarrassment that Beppe must eliminate in the traditional Mafia way. The British and Tuscan narratives alternate, leaving readers to wonder how, exactly, they intersect. Aside from the obvious clues—Marina is so secretive her stepchildren call her "Submarine," and Rafa did not come to Polzanze by chance, but by design—it is to the author's credit that she manages to prolong the puzzle until the not-so-bitter end.

An absorbing plot conveyed in woefully clichéd language: Montefiore's hearts are always swelling, filling or leaping.

From the Publisher
"Rosalyn Landor's gentle voice and flowing delivery accentuate the lush romanticism of this tale...Landor's subtle accents help bring the foreign settings to life, and her characters are both realistic and likable." - AudioFile

"Two stories, two generations, and two beautiful European locales are neatly gift-wrapped into one sumptuous tale of love, loss, and redemption...Luxurious and romantic depictions of scenic Tuscany and the beautiful English coast." - Publishers Weekly

"An absorbing plot. It is to the author’s credit that she manages to prolong the puzzle until the not-so-bitter end." - Kirkus Reviews

"...Montefiore excels at juxtaposing the opulent with the ordinary in delicately woven tales that seamlessly traverse borders and span decades." - Booklist

"Montefiore has written another lovely fairy tale for grown-ups, intertwining two stories separated by time and place. Fans of women's fiction will be moved by the characters and eager to find out what happens to them." - Library Journal

"...a rich tale...will enchant those who read it." - The Examiner

"...spellbinding tale...Montefiore, a consummate storyteller, has a magical way of pulling her readers into her beautiful worlds where love triumphs...[an] intriguing and uplifting tale." - Las Vegas Review-Journal

"Santa Montefiore's charming, romantic novel...very real and believable characters...The icing on this delicious cake is the narration...Her sophisticated reading brings a touch of Hitchcock's suspense in To Catch a Thief and another touch of du Maurier's romance in Rebecca. Landor's characters breathe, Montefiore's descriptions glisten, and listeners...will not be able to turn this off until the end. Highly recommended as the best way to travel or to get away from everything these days." - SoundCommentary.com

"The Mermaid Garden has it all: secrets, mystery, passionate love affairs fueled by drama and determined by fate, and the grace notes of fairytales - evil stepmothers, cranky stepdaughters, and redemption in the wake of understanding in the hands of the great painter Rafa Santoro. Santa Montefiore is a wonder, you will not be able to put this novel down. Unforgettable!" - Adriana Trigiani, author of Brava, Valentine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451624304
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
9.04(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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