I received today’s guest’s book in the mail and was surprised at the delivery. When I read the synopsis, I knew Linda from The Hachette Book Group, had sent me a book that I would enjoy. And then I had the ultimate honor to host this author, as she stops by and tells us about her book. Please help me give a very warm welcome to Lucretia Grindle!!!
Lucretia Grindle was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up spending half her time in the United States and half her time in the UK. Continuing as she started out, she still splits her time, but now calls the coast of Maine home.
First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me. Being a guest author is a real honor. I’m always thrilled when readers enjoy one of my books, so I’d like to start by saying thank you for that, too. Although, strangely, once they are written, I always feel that they’re kind of ‘Out There On Their Own’, a bit like children who’ve grown up and, finally, left home. That having been said, I’m especially fond of Villa Triste. It’s a special book to me, and I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about why that is.
Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to write a trilogy of novels set in Italy. This sprang, in part, from my own realization of what I didn’t (and I’m sure still don’t) understand about a country I have come to love so much. It began with Italy’s role in World War II, which I had always found confusing, and in particular with a series of plaques that I began to notice in my wanderings around Florence. Almost all of them referred to The Partisans, whom I knew nothing about. As I began to discover more, I also began to look rather differently at the old lady who ran my green grocers, at the old man who fed the cats on the steps that lead to my favorite church, at the caretaker in the piazza around the corner from my flat, at the flower-seller and his wife who kept the kiosk on the corner. All of them were probably in their eighties; all of them had lived through 1943 and 1944. As my research grew deeper, I realized that many of them had probably fought their way through those years. More than one in four of the Italian Partisans were women. It began to occur to me that sweet old ladies, as well as sweet old men, might have very unexpected pasts.
While Villa Triste is a work of fiction, everything, down to the dates and locations of the Allied bombings, is based on fact. The two sisters are an amalgamation of several women, but the family I describe existed, as did everything that happens to Isabella and Caterina. Even the little red book is based on another tiny book kept hidden in the hem of a dress – although that one was in Milan. There was a radio circuit. It had a different name, but its fate was the same as is portrayed in the book. Villa Triste is simply my answer to what might have happened. I hope, too, that it is also the story of those very ordinary heroes who, when pressed with the moment, found such extraordinary courage.
Villa Triste is also important to me for a very personal reason. I’ve been married for the past fifteen years. My husband will be eighty-seven this year. In the course of my marriage, I have often been annoyed, and frequently infuriated, by the way older people are treated, the way they are patronized and too often, marginalized – patted on the head like sweet little creatures – or simply ignored, both in life, and in fiction. I’m sick of action heroes and heroines who are always and eternally thirty-five and beautiful. Who says beauty stops at fifty or for that matter sixty or seventy, anyway? Who says brains, guile, sneakiness, nobility and even evil stop at fifty-five or sixty-five or for that matter, ninety-five?
That’s one of my pet hates, or rather two of them – the trope of the youngish athletic overly qualified character with a weird name who steps forth to carry out derring-do, be it good or bad; and the idea that the elderly do not have Agency. And I’m sick of, and a bit sickened by, the increasingly bizarrely chopped up bodies of young women that are too often a feature of crime writing. In Villa Triste, the corpses are old men. The heroes and heroines are lost back in time, and with a few exceptions, the players who exist today are graying. Love, need, shame, courage, and fury – they bind into all of us and make us who we are, no matter what our age. To me, Villa Triste is a story about that as much as it is a story about anything. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.
With all best wishes,
ABOUT THE BOOK
Florence, 1943. Two sisters, Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio, find themselves surrounded by terror and death; and with Italy trapped under the heel of a brutal Nazi occupation, bands of Partisans rise up.
Soon Isabella and Caterina will test their wits and deepest beliefs as never before. As the winter grinds on, they will be forced to make the most important decisions of their lives. Their choices will reverberate for decades.
In the present day, Alessandro Pallioti, a senior policeman agrees to oversee a murder investigation, after it emerges the victim was once a Partisan hero. When the case begins to unravel, Pallioti finds himself working to uncover a crime lost in the twilight of war, the consequences of which are as deadly today as they were over sixty years ago.
THANKS TO LINDA FROM THE HACHETTE BOOK GROUP, I HAVE
THREE (3) SIGNED COPIES OF THIS BOOK TO GIVE AWAY
U.S. AND CANADA RESIDENTS ONLY
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.