I’m always thrilled to get good editorial reviews, but especially so when it’s a positive Kirkus review. And even better when it comes with the verdict: “Get it”.
So I was pleased to receive this recent review from Kirkus for my forthcoming release, Rome’s Last Noble Palace. You can read the review below.
Sullivan’s romantic ghost story tells the story of two young women in Rome, a century apart.
In 1896, American Isabelle Field’s very rich Auntie Elizabeth, also known as Princess Brancaccio, has married into Italian aristocracy and has been asked to find a suitable match for her poor relation.
In 2006, Sophie Nouri, a graduate student in Persian art history, is interning at the Brancaccio Palace, which is now an art museum.
The connection between the women is that both, in their own time, live in a certain room on the top floor of the palace in the servants’ quarters. Isabelle is a spirited young woman and a talented fashion designer who has more modern ideas than her aunt does; the latter has her eye on an odious fop, Count Massimo, as a marriage match for her niece. Meanwhile, Isabelle and an attractive operatic tenor, Lamberto Perelli, fall in love. Sophie meets Sayed Ahmadi, an Iranian man who’s brought on as her assistant and who’s fluent in both English and Italian. Both women experience terrible traumas, but their lives have very different outcomes. Sophie’s storyline includes what appear to be encounters with a ghost, who seems to want to warn her of impending danger.
Sullivan is an experienced historical novelist, and in this novel she displays a great love of Italy, which she clearly knows well; her sense of place is meticulous throughout, as when Sophie reflects on her initial explorations: “One more church to explore, one more picturesque twisting street tempting her to follow its path, one more piazza drenched in sunshine, character, and local flavor in which to sit and drink a coffee, watching the people passing by.”
Some readers may find Sullivan’s prose style to be overheated, at times; tears “well up” or “prick” with alarming frequency. But the blending of the two well-paced stories is gracefully managed, as is the idea that social change is inevitable—even in 1896, as Isabelle breaks loose from her aunt’s domination, which is no small thing in the rigid fin de siècle society.
A dramatic and often satisfying tale with supernatural elements.
You can find the link to the Kirkus review here.