Synopses & Reviews
THE NEW NOVEL FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE LOST WIFE
Set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy,and#160;Garden of Lettersand#160;captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.
Portofino, Italy, 1943.and#160;A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd,and#160;Elodieand#160;is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man sheand#8217;s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.
Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussoliniand#8217;s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.
In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodieand#8217;s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.
"Star-crossed lovers are separated during WWII in Richman's heart-wrenching fourth novel. Josef and Lenka meet as students in Prague in 1936 and fall instantly in love. Three years later, with Nazis crossing the border, they rush to marry, but circumstances then force them apart. Lenka remains in Europe, and Josef flees to America. For 61 years, each believes the other dead until they meet by chance at the wedding of their grandchildren, leading them to reflect on the past and the separate lives they've led: Josef ended up in New York, becoming a successful obstetrician because he was 'tired of being haunted by death.' Lenka wasn't so lucky. She's sent to a work camp, where her artistic talents connect her to 'an underground network of painters illustrating the atrocities' of the Jewish ghettos. And then she's sent to, and survives, Auschwitz. Richman (The Last Van Gogh) once again finds inspiration in art, adding evocative details to a swiftly moving and emotionally charged plot. Richman's incremental descent into the horrors of the Holocaust lends enormous power to Lenka's experience and makes her reunion with Josef all the more poignant. Though the framing device of the decades-long separation can be cloying, this is a genuinely moving portrait. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heart-rending, sensual and beautifully written... may very well be the Sophie's Choice
of this generation."
-John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author
"Daringly constructed, this moving novel begins at the end and then, in a fully-realized circle through the most traumatic event of the 20th century, returns you there in a way that makes your heart leap."
-Loring Mandel, Emmy-winning playwright and author of Conspiracy
"A love story wrapped in tragedy and survival, I read The Lost Wife in one sitting. Tense, emotional and fulfilling: a great achievement by Alyson Richman."
-Martin Fletcher, Winner of the Jewish National Book Award and NBC Special News Correspondent
"Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heart-rending, sensual and beautifully written... may very well be the Sophie's Choice of this generation." -John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author
"Daringly constructed, this moving novel begins at the end and then, in a fully-realized circle through the most traumatic event of the 20th century, returns you there in a way that makes your heart leap." -Loring Mandel, Emmy-winning playwright and author of Conspiracy
"A love story wrapped in tragedy and survival, I read The Lost Wife in one sitting. Tense, emotional and fulfilling: a great achievement by Alyson Richman." -Martin Fletcher, Winner of the Jewish National Book Award and NBC Special News
and#8220;Ms. Richman is a very special talent.and#8221;and#8212; Kristin Hannah, New York Times
and#8220;Recalls Arthur Goldenand#8217;s Memoirs of a Geisha . . . [Richmanand#8217;s] sense of Japanese culture is subtle and nuanced.and#8221;and#8212;San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
and#8220;A long, succulent glide through two cultures.and#8221;and#8212;Bookforum
and#8220;This reverent, formal, and ambitious first novel boasts a glossy surface and convincing period detail.and#8221;and#8212;Publishers Weekly
and#8220;Richman has successfully drawn upon her historical research and her own experience . . . filled with historical detail and strong characterization.and#8221;and#8212;Library Journal
and#8220;A meticulous profile of a man struggling against his native culture, his family, and his own sense of responsibility.and#8221;and#8212;The New York Times Book Review
"A truly beautiful heartfelt story...I couldn't put it down once I started it. Ms. Richman is a very special talent."—New York Times
bestselling author Kristin Hannah
and#8220;A breathtakingly beautiful book. Cooke portrays an aristocratic dynasty that in 1914 was poised on the brink of extinction, as ponderous as the huge dinosaurs but just as magnificent. The exquisite intimacy of the writing and of the haunting love story drew me into this elegant world so entirely that I couldn't imagine ever leaving it. The vivid characters and understated heartbreak of their conflicts, above and below stairs, are depicted with sensitivity and insight. Superbly researched, a real treat.and#8221;and#8212;Kate Furnivall, author of The Russian Concubine
and#8220;I found myself addicted to Rutherford Park, much as I was to Downton Abbey. I reveled in delicious detail about life in a great country estate, all the while waiting to learn: would Octaviaand#8217;s family survive or would they be torn apart by the forces converging on them: personal failings, societyand#8217;s excesses, and Europeand#8217;s Great War?and#8221;and#8212;Margaret Wurtele, author of The Golden Hour
and#8220;Beautiful, melancholy and richly detailed, Rutherford Park elegantly depicts the lives within an English country house on the cusp of a new age. Elizabeth Cooke evokes classic authors like Vita Sackville West and Frances Hodgson Burnett.and#8221;and#8212;Natasha Solomons, author of The House at Tyneford
and#8220;Reminiscent of Catherine Cookson, a heart-aching story of an old world order and class divides set against Edwardian England.and#8221;and#8212;Judith Kinghorn, author of The Last Summer
and#8220;With its vivid descriptions and memorable characters, Rutherford Park drew me in from the first page.and#160; Richly textured with historical details, the novel captures perfectly the pre-World War I mood and atmosphere of the grand Yorkshire house and the lives of those who inhabit it.and#160; The final page left me thoroughly satisfied, yet wishing for more.and#160;Thank you, Elizabeth Cooke, for a wonderful story and the promise of another.and#8221;and#8212;Kelly Jones, author of The Woman Who Heard Color
and#8220;Comparisons with Downton Abbey on the eve of WWI are inevitable, but Rutherford Park gives a more comprehensive and realistic look at the farms and mill villages that sustained the great houses and shows us the inevitable cracks in their foundations.and#160; Compelling.and#8221;and#8212;Margaret Maron, author of the Judge Deborah Knott series
Advanced praise for THE GARDEN OF LETTERS
"Richman seamlessly weaves together the languages of music and love, reaching into the heart of the reader with artful portraits of heroism, sacrifice and redemption.and#160; Fans of The Lost Wife will again savor Richman's ability to tell a remarkable story about people who are unforgettable and real."and#8212;and#160;Pam Jenoff, International bestselling author
and#8220;Lyrical and richand#8230;filled with beauty and tragedy, romance and heartbreak.and#8221;and#8212;Jillian Cantor, Author ofand#160;Margot and#8220;Graceful, mellifluous...and#160;read this book.and#8221;and#8212;Jenna Blum,and#160;New York Timesand#160;bestselling author ofand#160;Those Who Save Us and#8220;The Garden of Lettersand#160;demonstrates artistry of the highest order. Lyrical and compelling, Alyson Richmanand#8217;s novel of a cellist coming of age in wartime Italy is as layered as a symphony. Exquisite.and#8221;and#8212;Erika Robuck, author ofand#160;Fallen Beauty
and#8220;A brilliant novel that will haunt me for years to come.and#8221;and#8212;Kristina McMorris, bestselling author of The Pieces We Keep
and#8220;Alyson Richman crafts a transportive novel vivid with history and fragile with hope.and#8221;and#8212;Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
Praise for THE LOST WIFE
"A truly beautiful heartfelt story...I couldn't put it down once I started it. Ms. Richman is a very special talent."and#8212;New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah
"Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heart-rending, sensual and beautifully written, Alyson Richman's The Lost Wife may very well be the Sophie's Choice of this generation."and#8212; New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart
"Moving, unforgettable and so expertly told, you have to wonder if the author has a gift of time traveland#8212;this is storytelling at its very best."and#8212;Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author
A rapturous novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Rhythm of Memory and The Last Van Gogh.
In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers...
Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.
Snow had fallen in the night, and now the great house, standing at the head of the valley, seemed like a five-hundred-year old ship sailing in a white oceanand#133;
For the Cavendish family, Rutherford Park is much more than a place to call home. It is a way of life marked by rigid rules and lavish rewards, governed by unspoken desiresand#133;
Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her familyand#8217;s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels boundand#151;by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.
On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Parkand#133;
1890. Yamamoto Kiyoki is a Japanese art student, dreaming of studying in Paris with the inspiring and vibrant Impressionist painters.
Yamamoto Ryusei is Kiyokiand#8217;s father. Ryuseiand#8217;s art, carving intricate masks for traditional Japanese theater, has been his refuge from loneliness since the death of his beloved wife, and he is revered as the most inspired artist of his kind. He expects his only son to honor the traditions of his family and his country, not to be seduced by Western ideas of what is beautiful. Ryusei hopes Kiyoki will follow his own distinguished career, creating masks that will become the familyand#8217;s crowning achievement.
But what is a father to do when his sonand#8217;s path is not what he had planned? And how can a son honor his father, and yet fulfill his own destiny?
READERS GUIDE INSIDE
About the Author
lives in Dorset in southern England and is the author of twelve novels, among them the international bestseller The Ice Child
. Her last book, the non-fiction The Damnation of John Donellan
was described as "a masterpiece" by The Times
. She has a long-established reputation for vivid storytelling and historical accuracy.
Elizabeth's family originates in the North Yorkshire Dales - Bronte country - and her grandfather worked at Kiplin Hall, where he was one of the "downstairs" staff. His life, and Yorkshire itself - both its outstanding natural beauty and the industrial life of its mill towns and cities - were the inspiration for Rutherford Park. Elizabeth is currently working on the second Rutherford book.