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Friday, January 13, 2017

The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale

Title: The Florentine Bridge
Author: Vanessa Carnevale
Publisher: 19 December 2016 by Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary romance, culture Italy/Tuscany
My Rating: 4.5 crowns


Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany

My Thoughts

The famous Florentine Bridge! Over the Arno River,’ he says. ‘Oh, right … I’ll make sure I look for it.’ ‘It’s only one of the most romantic spots in Florence.’

The Florentine Bridge is the debut novel from Australian author Vanessa Carnevale. Set against a gorgeous Tuscan backdrop, it is truly a captivating love story. If you are in the mood for curling up and being transported to Italy, whilst witnessing a very emotional love story, then this is the book for you. Yet it is so much more than just a love story, being filled with a passion for art, language and indeed, everything Italian, is most engaging.

Carnevale is obviously very familiar with all things Italian and that translates wonderfully well to the page. Her love of the land, and indeed the whole atmosphere, shines through. From Florence to smaller coastal towns, her setting descriptions, references to art, culture and the food are vivid and enticing. Yet she still manages to bring that touch of Australia to her writing which I love.

‘Wish I’d taken the time to at least iron my shirt and make a half-decent effort. I look so … Australian.’

Apart from the two leads, there is a wonderful cast of secondary characters that help meld the setting with the story and bring it altogether, making this a complete read. It is a very emotional read as it involves recovering from cancer treatment which would be daunting. So daunting, Mia had to remove herself from those she loved in her attempts to start over.  I also really appreciated the use of art/painting as a medium for expressing grief, sorrow, healing and love.

‘It’s like that messy web of my past is still wrapped around me and I can’t — don’t — know how to shake it off.’

My reason for taking away half a star is that a) they were both so young (Mia not yet 20 years old) and b) it all happened so quickly, ‘instalove’. Is this credible? Well, it does happen in the real world and you have to suspend your head thinking for your heart feeling. Also, both Mia and Luca’s actions towards the end of the book were challenging, probably more of a reflection of their young age and I found it a little frustrating.

‘Yet my heart doesn’t care that we’ve known each other for less than forty-eight hours.’

All that said, this really was a lovely bit of escapism about growth and change, love and acceptance. A recommended read from an up and coming Aussie novelist.

‘Today I am a clean sheet of paper, ready for a new picture, for a new story to be brought to life.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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