Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: The Echoes of Love

By Miriam Plotinsky

There used to be a really great commercial on TV for Barilla pasta. A woman is sitting in her apartment, looking out her window. In an opposite window, she sees a very attractive (okay, hot) Italian man looking at her coyly. There’s a knock on her door, and there he stands with a wonderful pasta dinner, and as the music soars (the music is my favorite part), they enjoy a meal together. Ah, romance and Italy. The two are as intertwined as chocolate and peanut butter, and effectively brought together in Hannah Fielding’s The Echoes of Love. Primarily set in Venice, this ostentatious love story brings two characters together in the most dramatic style.

The aptly-named Venetia Aston-Montagu, a blue-blooded art restorer, is rescued one night by Paolo Barone, an Italian businessman with the requisite mysterious past. Through various plot complications, mainly involving Venetia’s traumatic past love life, the two engage in several episodes of banter and verbal foreplay before finally succumbing to carnal lust (and love). Further conflicts, including an evil count and a femme fatale, keep the book in full motion until Venetia and Paolo can confront their pasts in order to create a harmonious future.

The story is quite entertaining, if beyond the bounds of belief. The lovers themselves are cut from a predictable mold, as are their predicaments, but the various settings within Italy’s stunning landscape are appealing. What is not quite so palatable is Venetia herself, who is the antithesis of a feminist heroine. She regularly gets into trouble (her most common fault is falling down a lot), and Paolo is always at the ready to rescue her. Most modern women would find this plot device to be particularly repellant. Furthermore, Venetia’s unparalleled beauty, so often described in detail, is reliant on a too-thin wispiness that adds to her general aura of helplessness, and contrasts sharply with Paolo’s muscled frame. Heroines are not what they used to be, nor should they be presented as such.

In general, The Echoes of Love has an old-world feel that belies its modern-day setting. Perhaps that touch of romantic Italy thrown against my pragmatic American sensibilities is making the contrast more noticeable. This book should probably be set in a different era, when it was more acceptable for women to be victims of learned helplessness. Still, the passionate movement of the book is undeniable, and suspense about the characters’ ultimate fate keeps the story going until, music soaring, everything comes to a neat denouement. But this time, there’s no man with Barilla at the door.

Thanks to Midas Public Relations for the book in exchange for an honest review.

You might also enjoy:

No comments: