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As a professional historian and a frequent visitor to Tuscany, I can say that I enjoyed The Etruscan a great deal. Linda Lappin has brought to life a lost world, that of Tuscany in the 1920s, along with a slice of upper-middle class England, the touring set. This is the task of the historical novelist, and Lappin has done it with zest. Though not set in ancient Etruria, the book also illuminates significant aspects of the Etruscan world, especially its funerary rites and its concept of the afterlife. Treading among the genres of mystery, thriller, and fantasy, Lappin weaves a tale of the intrepid Harriet’s search for adventure and romance in the crumbling ruins of a lost civilization. Lappin’s characterization is strong and convincing. I warmed to Harriet, an ahead-of-her-time feminist and adventurer, and found her consistent and appealing. But I was fondest of sturdy Mrs. Parsons, the family’s parlor maid, who is sent to the Tuscan hill country to look after “Miss Harriet.” I took her to be the moral center of the piece, protecting Harriet from the dangerously arrogant, if not specifically evil Stephen. I especially liked her soliloquy about the power of “Mr. Stephen” and men of his ilk who seem to hold the very world in their hands. Recommended for those who enjoy a good historical novel and those with a fondness for the Tuscan hills, the early twentieth-century English idle rich, or the shadowy world of lost Etruria.
It is the year 1922 and Harriet Sackett, an avant garde, trouser-wearing American woman is intent on photographing Etruscan tombs in the Italian countryside. The powerful sense of the nineteen-twenties established at the beginning of The Etruscan, by Linda Lappin, quietly gives way to a gorge of time where the linear dissolves and all is not what it seems.
As the novel begins, the reader learns of the heroine, Harriet, through the eyes of her traditional and patronizing English cousin Stephen, and his wife Sarah, a childhood friend of Harriet's. When Harriet mysteriously drops out of all communication, her cousin sends Mrs. Parsons, the family housekeeper, to check up on her in the isolated stone house where she's staying in Viterbo.
Harriet's story, written in her own leather-bound journal, is read in sections by various characters, Mrs. Parsons, Sarah and Stephen. Both Mrs. Parsons and Sarah attempt to solve the mystery of Harriet's current ill state through their reading, while Stephen dismisses it as lunacy.
Harriet arrived in Viterbo with the intention of discovering Etruscan artifacts, yet her own journal turns out to be the primary artifact of the book. Reading becomes an excavation of the senses: thick yellowish ear shaped lichen, the earthy aroma of wild porcini, the wet tracks of wild boars running through the forest, and the warmth of a man's strong hand. The novel transports the reader to the Etruscan landscape and turns any ideas of gothic literature upside down. I highly recommend this book not only to anyone interested in the Etruscan countryside between Rome and Florence, but also to those intrigued by the sensual yet ethereal nature of memory and identity. This is a special book.
What a pleasure to read the words of a writer who obviously was born to it. I loved Harriett, a very unusual and brave woman for her time, who, quite by accident, stumbles upon an assignment to photograph Etruscan tombs. This accident will prove to profoundly change the remainder of her life. The story is a wonderful mix of character, circumstance, dream, tragedy, and fancy and leaves the reader wondering just how much is "real". The errors which I assume are the result of rendering the book into e-reader format were a bit distracting, but the writing itself is so lush and compelling that I minded less than I usually do.
While this is not my usual genre, I found this book captivating. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the book from start to end. The setting was an adventure as I was unfamiliar with the Etruscan civilization. I felt strong emotions towards the characters. Characters seemed real and well developed. While I thought that I might be disappointed at the ending, I was not.
I felt this was between a Gothic romance and a mystery. I probably would not have been interested in it except for the Etruscan link. However, I felt this was well worth the time to read.
This book disappointed me. I was really looking forward to learning about the Etruscans. Nor do I have any idea why Harriet would have fallen in love with this man. The characters were not at all well developed and the writing style was so very slow.
I first found out about this book in 2001 while shopping at a furniture store. It was on a table in a staged living room and while I was waiting I picked it up and started reading it. It was fascinating and when I attempted to find it, found that it was out of print and could only get it at exorbitant prices. Then one day, lo and behold, it came up for FREE on the Kindle site and I snatched it up. I am still reading it, but am loving every page! Thank you Amazon!!!
A pleasant, easy read which I view as a romantic fantasy because the reader can never be sure how much of the love story really happened and how much was imagined. well written with good character development. An OK book if you aren't looking for something challenging.
Excellent. The writing was good and intelligent. The editing was excellent for the most part - I spotted only a couple of typos. The plot was good and it kept me interested through the entire book. I think that what happened to Harriet was a travisty, but considering the times, it might have been worse.
This is an odd tale told in a way that pulls you in, the mysterious nature of the events that occurred and the contrast between the perspective of persons outside the core relationship keep you wondering right up to the end. I found this one hard to put down.