Sunday, July 5, 2015

REVIEW: The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

The Garden of Letters
by Alyson Richman

Publisher: Berkley
Page Count: 384
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal library

First attention getter: story of Resistance in WWII Italy and author


From GoodReads:


Set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, Garden of Letters 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. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’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 Mussolini’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 Elodie’s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

An intriguing tale of resistance against the invading Germans and one young lady’s growth in her music and as a woman, this book cements my love for this author. I adored her previous novel, The Lost Wife, with its richness and historical details. So I went into this book with high expectations; they were all met.

The author’s writing style needs a special mention. It’s rich with phrase choice and symbolism; the whole garden of letters and imagery on the walls made tears come to my eyes from how beautiful it sounded emotionally. Her writing is almost lyrical in its presentation; she makes that work where others would be too wordy or esoteric.

I loved this exploration of WWII in Italy and that country’s role in the struggle. Seeing the Resistance start to build only to be cut down so soon was heart-wrenching. I also found myself intrigued by the different ways that they passed messages around; the idea of hiding a message in a musical score performance boggles the mind. These people put so much passion into fighting against their invaders that the reader can’t help but be sucked into the story, heart and soul.

I adored Elodie. She’s such a rich character to explore the story through. A musical prodigy that showed so much promise, it surprises to see where she ends up in the end after so much struggle and strife. She grows so much and learns what truly matters in life, suffering tragedy after tragedy to find true happiness after it all.

Another winner from Richman. She meets the grades again on historical details, great writing style, and characters that engage you. I found myself engrossed by this look at WWII in Italy and Elodie’s growth as a woman. Highly, highly recommended for lovers of WWII historical fiction.


  1. Another nice review and another book to add to my TBR list. You've got a new follower to your blog here.

    1. Thanks and welcome. :) You'll definitely not regret adding this one; it's fantastic.