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Book Review : The Secret of Villa Alba by Louise Douglas

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts about The Secret of Villa Alba by Louise Douglas.

The secrets of the Borgata family from Villa Alba will keep you guessing!

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First, here’s more information about the book:

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BL7967XW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (3 July 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3684 KB

1968, Sicily.  Just months after a terrible earthquake has destroyed the mountain town of Gibellina, Enzo and his wife Irene Borgata are making their way back to the family home, Villa Alba, on roads overlooked by the eerie backdrop of the flattened ghost town.  When their car breaks down, Enzo leaves his young wife to go and get help, but when he returns there is no trace of Irene.  No body, no sign of a struggle, nothing.

2003. TV showman and true crime aficionado Milo Conti is Italy’s darling, uncovering and solving historic crimes for his legion of fans. When he turns his attention to the story of the missing Irene Borgata, accusing her husband of her murder, Enzo’s daughter Maddi asks her childhood friend, retired detective April Cobain, for help to prove her father’s innocence. But the tale April discovers is murky: mafia meetings, infidelity, mistaken identity, grief and unshakable love.  As the world slowly closes in on the claustrophobic Villa Alba, and the house begins to reveal its secrets, will the Borgata family wish they’d never asked April to investigate? And what did happen to Enzo’s missing wife Irene? 

Book Review

What a fabulous story! 

The short timeframe in 2003 puts April under pressure to uncover what really happened in May 1968.  Having spent summers with Enzo and Maddi, I wondered how she would handle the truth … if Irene’s disappearance was related to one of the Borgata’s, would she be able to share that with the world?

As time counts down to Milo Conti’s exposé, he whips up the locals by dropping hints of his evidence on TV.  This has a huge impact as they take action.  Such a tense and alienating time for the family!

 As April is digging deeper and questioning the family’s memories, Irene’s narration takes us back to 5 years before the earthquake, culminating in the earthquake.

Oh how I loved this time split!  Each narration keeps you reading because you just have to know!

There are HUGE surprises in 2003 that we later find out more about in Irene’s narration.  Halfway through, my jaw was hanging open and I’m thinking wow, this changes EVERYTHING! 

You get a sense of so many things not being said.  I struggled to pinpoint what exactly happened and who was responsible.  Of course, I made guesses based on what I knew but in all honesty? I had no idea what happened to Irene in that bleak landscape at the side of the road.

The ending had me in tears.  So many lives affected over the years …

As well as the mystery, Louise Douglas drew me in to the Sicilian way of life and the landscape.  The setting is stunning.  Villa Alba in its decline felt authentic with whispers of its past echoing around the rooms.  

The secrets at the heart of Villa Alba entwine and tell a tale of a love so strong, nothing can stand in its way.  I loved it!

About the Author

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author and an RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

Twitter @LouiseDouglas3

Books read from this author:

The Lost Notebook

The Room in the Attic

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