Hart has such a way with words! It’s not so much that she makes me visualize something I’ve never seen (which she does brilliantly), it’s more like I’m blind and she’s reminding me what vision used to be like.
Picture this, for example: you’re in Italy, staying alone in a quaint pensione in a small village by the seaside, and someone tells you:-
An old man stood in the doorway, with bushy eyebrows and a long white beard that caught the light like spiderwebs caught dew. Sandro itched to photograph him; he looked a lot like Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait.
Did that not put you in mind of Leonardo’s self-portrait right before Hart actually mentioned the artist by name?
But it’s not just the imagery that made me love this book. Being a love story, certain emotions are a given: love, lust, abstinence, trepidation. But the way these feelings develop, unfold, and mature is subtle and real. Not once did I roll my eyes or become a cynical unbeliever.
The premise is equally relatable: to be a female war correspondent in WWI, when women had few rights and were literally treated as property under law, would have required the utmost of courage and determination. Hart conveys this beautifully, and in a particularly evocative scene of an Italian winter on the land, she throws in some insightful observations that help me understand why some parts of the world still don’t fully respect women today.
On top of all that, I *adore* the way Hart has mastered the art of skipping-the-boring-bits-but-then-flashing-back-to-a-key-bit-anyway (there must be a better name for this device! If there isn’t, I will call it a Hartism from now on): switching perspective, backtracking in time, and jumping forward again seamlessly and without the slightest hint of the twin sins of confusion-and-boredom.
An absolutely stunning story, well-written and gripping. I simply must read everything she’s written!
Due for release in March 2017 – review based on uncorrected proof copy