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Review : Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts today about Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan.

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book cover for Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan.  A  narrow Rome street in the late 1970's
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08Q399Q19
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Corvus; Main edition (3 Jun. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4369 KB

In the Eternal City, no secret stays hidden forever…

Lottie Archer arrives in Rome excited to begin her new job as an archivist. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence.

Nina seems to have led a rewarding and useful life, restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978?

In exploring Nina’s past, Lottie unravels a tragic love story beset by the political turmoil of post-war Italy. And as she edges closer to understanding Nina, she begins to confront the losses in her own life.

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Two Women in Rome Review

There’s so much intrigue in Two Women in Rome.  The format is great for building suspense.  I had quite a few questions while I was reading – I do enjoy a story that makes you think 🙂

Whilst Lottie is waiting for the paperwork to go through for her new job at the Espatriati, she’s given a temporary desk and two boxes to start sifting through.

In those boxes is the 15th century painting as well as more personal items from Nina Lawrence.  It’s clear from the beginning that the two boxes should have stayed hidden. 

At first her interest is hooked by their similarities of being outsiders and the mystery but soon becomes a compulsion for the truth.  Her digging gets her noticed and leads her down a very dangerous path … Lottie is unable to set it aside despite the warnings. 

We get to know Nina and her life through her journal entries.  Her narrations lead Lottie on, opening up clues and giving just enough for Lottie to do more digging.

As well as Lottie’s quest to find the truth, she is trying to overcome her distrust of close relationships.  She’s settling into Tom’s apartment and experiencing the political differences with residents.  I was never sure of Tom, thinking there was much more to him than on the surface, another layer.  He surprised me!

I loved the impact Lottie has on Gabriele Ricci. And how in turn, he effects change for her.  For me, this was the emotional punch that was missing in the rest of the story.  This made me cry.

The timeline of the past drew me in more than the present (I felt more of an emotional attachment to Nina).  Lottie’s character is needed for opening up the past and for the revelations.

I enjoyed Two Women in Rome.  The mystery, politics, poignant romance, family roles and the expectations of society held my interest.  Recommended read.

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Elizabeth Buchan was a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prize-winning Consider the Lily, international bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged WomanThe New Mrs Clifton and The Museum of Broken Promises. Buchan’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She has reviewed for the Sunday Times, The Times and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She was a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award. She is a patron of the Guildford Book Festival and co-founder of the Clapham Book Festival.
Twitter @ElizabethBuchan

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