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I loved reading this book. I am fascinated by the Etruscan civilization (as it happens) and we are planning to visit Umbria in April, so I was in the right frame of mind to start with. But the narrative and the author's powers of description and ability to create an atmosphere, plus the interest of the social background, took me over completely. There was a wonderful sense of place, of mystery and of the quirks of human character which made the book believable whilst also being (a trifle) fantastic. There were no stereotyped characters, which is unusual for a book with a strong narrative. And everything worked out in a convincing way. I recommend it highly to anyone.
I first heard about this book through EReaderNews. A superbly written book which kept me hooked from the first page. The story is about a middle aged woman, named Harriet, who travels out to Italy in the 1920s to photograph Etruscan tombs but there is a good twist to the tale and the novel had me totally captivated. I will definitely read more of this author'swork.
What an unusual and intriguing story. I couldn't put it down, particularly towards the end. Is it a ghost story, or the drug induced fantasies of a deeply disturbed woman. And if it is the latter, is her mental condition hereditary or due to a traumatic event in her teens, This is a brilliant book that keeps you guessing long after the book is finished.
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.
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!!!
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.