I love a historical fiction novel, I am a big fan of Kate Mosse so was really looking forward to this book, set in Pisa and spanning the centuries.
I reviewed an ebook copy via Netgalley
Two women, centuries apart, bound together by the secrets of one of the most iconic buildings ever created. Pisa, 1999 Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her. Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the Tower, and discovers the woman that history forgot… Pisa, 1171 Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and that of a young master mason, Gerardo, forever. A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture draws her closer to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds… A richly drawn and absorbing novel of passion and power, love and redemption that will captivate fans of Victoria Hislop, Tracy Chevalier and Kate Furnivall.
The book starts off well, and the pace is nice and lesiurely. We see Sam start to uncover secrets of the past, relating to the Leaning Tower and when it was built. We also see alongside this the story of Berta, who is the lady who funded the building of the Tower. But it is a mystery who she is and why she wanted the Tower built.
I really enjoyed the first half of this story, reading the background of the Leaning Tower and the developing relationship between Berta and Gerardo. I was less interested in Sam’s side of the story, if I am truthful, however the first half of the book I was waiting for her to find out some secrets and start to delve into the past. Her relationship with her Husband is strained and she finds help in the form of Dario, an italian reporter.
I enjoyed this book but I did feel like the story could have been developed a bit more. I didn’t really feel there was a link between the two stories – I think his would have been interesting for the reader, as when I was reading I was wondering whether there was any relevance or mirroring of the stories between the ages. I was also slightly disappointed that the Dario storyline never really took off, and I felt a little disappointed in Sam’s ending in the book. I found some of the story a little repetitive – espeically regarding the Berta/Gerardo/Aurelia storyline – Gerardo seems to consider how much he cares/love each of them frequently throughout the book. Character wise, I felt the past characters were much better developed than the ‘modern day’ ones, I was hooked into reading what happened next in the past, and I wanted to hurry through the ‘Sam’ parts. I think this book could have been a great book without the modern day element, to be honest.
I did enjoy reading this book, but as I found only really half of the novel particularly interesting, I am giving the book 3.5 stars. I did like the tone and pace of the book, however and I will definetely look out for more books from Debbie in the future.
Secrets of The Tower by Debbie Rix is published by Bookouture and is out now.