Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

By the time I got this book from the library, I couldn't remember where I heard about it.  While it wasn't fantastic, it was worth reading.

The story begins with a cryptic prologue set in Rome in 1989.  The characters involved are not even named - and it takes until almost the epilogue to figure out its meaning.  The rest of the book alternates scenes in Rome in 2017 with flashbacks to the life of an elderly Viscontessa, Elena.

In 2017 Elena hires Cesca to sort through all her family photos in order to write her biography.  Cesca is a former barrister who left England for Rome when something terrible happened to her - we only learn exactly what that was late in the narrative.  As a barrister trained to cross examine, she quickly realizes Elena is putting a happy gloss on her scandalous life.  In the chapters from Elena's past we see just how little of the truth she is actually sharing.

The chapters from the past are interesting - we get a glimpse into the life of a very wealthy American socialite who was married and divorced three times before she meets Vito, an Italian aristocrat, and her fourth husband.  He is madly in love with her, and she with him, until she meets his twin brother, Aurelio.  Though Elena and Aurelio fight their feelings eventually it drives a wedge between the brothers.  It also turns many of their Italian friends and family against Elena.  Part of Cesca's work involves unravelling exactly what happened between Elena, Vito and Aurelio.

There is also a side present day love story between Cesca and Nico which is a nice diversion from the other mystery.

Again, not a fantastic book but entertaining.

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