Favourite quote: N/A
This book follows the story of Alba, a young woman in the 1970’s who lives a promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle aboard a houseboat – ‘The Valentina’. She has always feels isolated and so when she finds a portrait on her mother on the boat she goes on a quest to discover the truth about her mother and her family in Italy. Ultimately she finds not only her family in Italy but discovers a truth about her mother which explains why she was always such a mystery and not spoken of.
I’m afraid to say that although I’ve liked some of her other novels very much I thought this one was a let-down. It was described on the cover as a mystery, however it lacked tension. Had I put it down on the train and forgotten it I wouldn’t have endeavoured to find out the ending. In addition the characters were cliché and flat, and even in the book stereotypes were regurgitated, with Alba and her mother being the same ‘exotic and mysterious’ stereotype, and the two men who fall for them (Tommy and Fitz) being ‘English gentlemen’. The women in the book were particularly hard to relate to, and I found by the end I didn’t care what happened to Alba, nor could I find anywhere a valid explanation of why Fitz fell in love with her aside her looks.
There was an attempt at character development; however it seemed very forced and unrealistic. Alba suddenly changes from being a selfish and hedonistic woman to one who is suddenly content with clean simple living, working in a café and who loves children. Although I understand what the author was trying to achieve here, it seemed unrealistic.
However if you are looking for an easy read, perhaps a holiday book to read in the sun where you know everything will turn out well in the end, then you can’t go far wrong with this book. A good book for if you are lacking the time or effort to concentrate on a more challenging book; the switching viewpoints keep your interest somewhat. However if you are going to pick up a book by Santa Montefiore then I could suggest ‘The House by the Sea’ which seems to have the heart and the characters which ‘Valentina’ seems to lack.
Please feel free to comment below, if not, the next review to go live should be later on this week and will the ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ by Claire North. Until then xxx