The Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore

Nouran Bouchlaghem

conducting an MA in English and international relations.
BA in English and international relations.
online dialogue facilitator

The book and the author:

The Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore, a British author. It is an epic romantic, yet mysterious fictional novel that was published in 2005.

Santa Montefiore. source: https://www.littlelondonmagazine.co.uk/my-school-life-santa-montefiore/

Santa Montefiore. source: https://www.littlelondonmagazine.co.uk/my-school-life-santa-montefiore/

The story:

The author uses the flashback technique. You will reveal the truth, piece by piece, while reading the scattered events from different eras and for different people. The story starts with a savage murder of an aristocrat in his Italian palazzo at the end of the second world war. The crime remains an unsolved case that will deeply affect the life of our main character Alba twenty years later.

Alba is a hedonistic and a sybaritic girl who lives on a houseboat. she is a beautiful half-Italian young woman who has always felt herself an outsider to her father Thomas and stepmother Margo. As a result, she decides to live by her own, away from her still grieving father, in a house boat named the Valentina. One day she finds a rolled-up portrait of her mother, Valentina. Alba discovers a secret about her dead mother. Meanwhile, the writer sheds the light on a thread of love, decadence and betrayal that takes Alaba  in unexpected journey to the olive groves of the Amalfi Coast, rich with the scent of figs, and the drama of wartime.  As the writer discribes it

“The past unfolds revealing a secret web of partisans and Nazis, peasants and counts and in the centre of it all, an alluring woman of mystery: her mother.”

Alba is not only discovering her past but also carving her future and taking herself to a possible happiness.

Reflection:

“Santa Montefiore brilliantly captures the intrigue and skulduggery of a country at war in a very absorbing romance.”
Red Magazine

The story was inspired, as the author stated, from her grandmother’s house boat. She let her imagination draws this picture of the Mediterranean, off the coast of Italy, and a british man who spends some time ashore and falls in love with a local girl.

What I like about this novel is the detailed description of the senses. It is not about what your eyes can see, but also what you smell and feel with your skin. I Couldn’t stop smelling figs. In fact, I never relised how good the smell is in reality. Moreover, I like how she used different geographical locations wisely.  she kept the entertainment and the joy of mixing imagination with reality. What I like too is the fact that the story is self-revealing in which you are always excited to know more.

Nouran Bouchlaghem

conducting an MA in English and international relations. BA in English and international relations. online dialogue facilitator

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