Valerie Martin Italian Fever: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780375705229

Italian Fever: A Novel

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9780375705229: Italian Fever: A Novel
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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.

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Review:

Italian Fever is a strange soufflé--half mystery and half squib on American innocence and European experience. In Brooklyn, Lucy Stark, an author's assistant who has "come to prefer liberty to passion," despairs over her boss's latest manuscript. "DV's books were always awful, but what made this one worse than the others was the introduction of a new element, which was bound to boost sales: There was a ghost in the villa. DV had gone gothic." But then the phone rings, and she learns that DV will scribe no more, having died under strange circumstances in Ugolino. At least his demise will afford Lucy a vacation of sorts--a stay in Tuscany so that she can identify his body, sort through his effects, and perhaps divine the cause of his death.

Of course, from the moment her plane lands, she suffers from cultural disorientation, and worse. Why, exactly, is her handsome if humorless chauffeur, Massimo, so solicitous? Why is DV's villa in fact a farmhouse? And are its proprietors, the Cinis, conspiring to keep her from the truth? Then there are Lucy's Nancy Drew-like discoveries--a terrifying drawing of DV and a mysterious love letter. And is the scratching at the walls a sign from DV's ghost or something more quotidian? All in all, our heroine can't sort out hallucination from Italian provocation, which is all too much for someone who has long prided herself on her clear sight.

Though Valerie Martin's seventh novel has its share of stomach-clenching moments, it is most successful in its many comic scenes (not something this talented author has hitherto been known for). Whether Lucy is trying to break through Massimo's defenses or get to the bottom of the Cinis' behavior, she is usually miles from the truth. Meanwhile, Martin offers up a host of memorable minor figures, from DV's ultrasophisticated New York publisher to the quail-consuming, epigram-spouting Antonio Cini, who gets most of the good lines. When Lucy tells him that she's forever in Massimo's debt, he languidly responds: "Forever, that must be a tiresome sensation." Though Italian Fever is never in the least tiresome, its biggest mystery is how Martin--who has written so strikingly of possession in The Great Divorce--is here far stronger on satire than the supernatural. --Kerry Fried

From the Publisher:

"Even if they're not such innocents anymore, Americans can still be changed fundamentally by a trip to Italy. Valerie Martin's Lucy is very unlike the Lucy of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View, but, like her, finds a new sense of herself in this taut, honed, and surprising novel."
--Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun

"Lucy Stark, the American heroine of this captivating novel, is subject to the pitfalls of Italian life--its loves, its darkness and illusions. 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 read."
--Mary Morris, author of Nothing to Declare

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375405426: Italian Fever

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0375405429 ISBN 13:  9780375405426
Publisher: Knopf, 1999
Hardcover

9780783888408: Italian Fever: A Novel (G K Hall Large Print Book Series)

G K Ha..., 2000
Hardcover

9780297848868: Italian Fever

Weiden..., 2004
Hardcover

9781843957362: Italian Fever (Charwood Large Print)

Ulvers..., 2005
Hardcover

9780753818589: Italian Fever

Phoeni..., 2005
Softcover

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Vintage Contemporaries ed. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Seller Inventory # BZV9780375705229

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Vintage Contemporaries ed. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. 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. Seller Inventory # BTE9780375705229

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