1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison. 1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case--a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood--Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.
Onto the discussion notes:
6 liked, 0 disliked, and 5 were so-so
While 6 people liked the book, no one LOVED the book.
The killer: There was much speculation about who the killer was. Some thought that Serafina might have a split personality, and therefore be the killer. We felt that the murderer was such a minor blip in the story that no one considered he might be the killer. One member thought it would have been more interesting to reveal the killer at the beginning and go back and explain the motives. Another person liked that the killer wasn’t revealed until the end.
The love story: Some people didn’t feel the love between Cristina and Friedrich. We wanted the relationship to be even more developed.
Emotional connections: Overall, we didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters. However, some of us felt connections with the older couple who were forced to sell their belongings. There was also an emotional connection to the Villa Chimera. The destruction made people sad.
Francesca: Did she have meaning in her life? We agreed that Francesca had no meaning in her life after her family died. She merely existed.
The ending: One of us asked: If Serafina was so concerned about the family, why didn’t she follow them from the cemetery? We didn’t really have a good answer for this.
Our next discussion is on Thursday, December 17 at 7 p.m. We'll discuss A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.