I really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s debut novel – The Book of Lost and Found – and so was delighted when a friend let me borrow a copy of her second book ‘The Invitation’ to bring on holiday.
Here’s the Amazon blurb:
“Rome, 1950s. One fateful night, Hal Jacobs meets Stella, a beautiful society darling from New York. To Hal, flailing in the post-war darkness, she’s a point of light. They’re from different worlds, but both trying and failing to carve out a new life.
Stella vanishes all too quickly, until a curious invitation from an Italian Contessa reels her back into Hal’s world. They join the Contessa’s collection of luminaries on a yacht headed for Cannes film festival.
The scene on board is a fiction – scars from the war can be hidden yet not healed. Everyone is hiding a dark history, but Stella’s secrets run the deepest. Compelled by her fragile beauty, Hal is determined to bring back the girl she once was, the girl who’s been confined to history.
The Invitation is an epic love story that will transport you from the glamour of the Italian Riviera, to the darkness of war-torn Spain, and to a golden – if rather haunted – time.”
Now I’m not normally a fan of historical novels – and would not pick one by choice – but was willing to give this the benefit of the doubt – and was very pleased I did. I really enjoyed it from chapter 1.
It is set in different parts of Italy (and occasionally surrounding countries) and describes them beautifully and very vividly – particularly the chapters that move along the Italian Riveria – it’s definitely inspired me to want to visit that area of Italy.
As with Ms Foley’s previous book – it moves between different time periods, and different characters holding the narrative, seamlessly and adds to the epic nature of the book. I really felt involved in the book and in the fate of everyone – particularly Hal.
There are some great twists and turns – particularly towards the end – which I couldn’t possibly give away, but are very enjoyable. I also liked that there was a proper ending with loose ends suitably tied up.
It feels well written and structured – which might sound a bit geeky, but I like that in a book. I felt like real care was taken with the descriptions and the flow of the story – it feels like a grown up’s book – but in a good way, not a fuddy duddy way!
So all in all, yet another great book from Lucy Foley – and I look forward to her next one already.