Mira, Nov 2002, 6.99, 448 pp.
With the fall of Napoleon, Europe is carved up by the superpowers. Especially winning at the peace is the Austrian Empire, which includes the Italian peninsular as part of its vast holdings. By 1829 Italy is a hotbed of revolutionary activity led by the Carbonari whose goal is a free united country. The members must be extremely careful to avoid exposure as Austrian spies and their Italian supporters abound everywhere.
Years ago Angelo Bartolini and Beatrice Fairweather fell in love, but she returned to England. Now Beatrice, an artist, lives in Tuscany while Angelo is a key player in the Carbonari movement. When these former lovers meet again, the sparks are even greater, but the coming revolution and betrayal will make it impossible for a relationship to flourish between them, but then again love has attained the impossible before.
THE ITALIAN is a strong historical romance filled with vivid descriptions of Italy in the decade following the Congress of Vienna of 1815. As a backdrop to a wonderful star-crossed love story, readers obtain a taste for the fine arts, the political intrigue and espionage that seeps into every niche and cranny, and a close up look at life in an increasingly fervent era where danger is everywhere. The lead couple is a delight as they struggle between love and mistrust. Though fans who prefer blood and guts action need to go elsewhere, those readers who take pleasure in a warm pictaresque cozy will want to peruse Elaine Coffman's leisurely look at this period.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner