Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix

"It seemed to the man that he was floating. His hands, he noticed, caught the sunlight, and the almost imperceptible webs between his widely spread fingers glowed bright red shot through by the sun, revealing the complex pattern of veins moving blood around his body. Keeping him alive. The blood pumped harder now, pressing into his skull, restricting the brain until it hurt. Then nothing. A thud. And the birds, free-wheeling high in the sky, looked down on the body spread-eagled and lifeless in the shadow of the tower." Opening Paragraph

Synopsis:    

The world’s most iconic building…and the woman that history forgot. 

Pisa, 1999
Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her. Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the Tower, and discovers the woman that history forgot… 

Pisa, 1171
Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and that of a young master mason, Gerardo, forever. A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture also draws her closer to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds… A richly drawn and absorbing novel of passion and power, love and redemption that will captivate fans of Victoria Hislop, Tracy Chevalier and Kate Furnivall.

Review by Mirella Patzer

Secrets of the Tower is a wonderfully written novel about construction of the Tower of Pisa and two women - a 12th century woman obsessed with its construction and a 21st century woman obsessed with uncovering its history. 

It is evident, right from the start of the book, that a great deal of research went into the creation of this detailed work of art. Debbie Rix's rendering of the characters of the time was realistic and very well done. Most impressive were the architectural and building details. My favourite of all however, was the main characters, Berta di Bernardo of the 12th century, and Sam Campbell of modern times. The lives of the two women intertwine when Sam takes up her injured husbands work as a journalist writing about the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Both women were equally intriguing. And of course there is a love story involved for both these women which fills the story with plenty of inner conflict. At the end of the book, there is a chronological timeline of the history of the tower, from its inception to modern day.

For fans of Italian historical fiction, this is definitely a book to add to your library. Not only was it highly informative, but immensely entertaining.

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