The Tuscan setting of this new novel by the bestselling author of The Christmas Box
is as beguiling as its heroine. Ellen, now called Eliana, has been living in Italy for several years. She's a talented artist in her 30s, originally from a small town in Utah. She came to Italy to study art and soon met and married Maurizio Fernini, the head of a large family agricultural enterprise. What seemed like a fairy tale quickly soured—Maurizio now spends much of his time traveling and philandering, leaving her to care for their severely asthmatic son, Alessio. Eliana knows that in her adopted country she's expected to shrug philosophically at her husband's cheating, but she remains furious and desperately lonely, and even considers illegally fleeing back to America with Alessio. Then she meets American Ross Story, an art lover and tour guide who knows everything about everything in the Uffizi Gallery. Eliana asks Ross to sit for a portrait, and soon she's not nearly as lonely as she used to be. But as the two fall for each other, she faces a tormenting choice between romantic love and her love for her son. Evans paces his story skillfully and plays up the Tuscan landscape to maximum effect. His literary devices can be a bit stale (the first paragraph of the book's first chapter has Eliana studying her reflection in a mirror), but he does offer a gender-bending twist on the age-old story of romance between artist and subject. Those who enjoyed The Christmas Box
are in for another treat. (Nov.)
Forecast:A massive marketing campaign—including print, television and radio publicity, and an author tour—should land this on plenty of holiday wish lists.