A couple of blackbirds pecked the grass in search of worms before returning to the towering lime trees that had just begun to sprout new green leaves. The peaceful silence was punctuated every now and then by whoops of laughter that erupted from the drawing-room on the other side of the hall where the rest of the house party were commenting loudly on the Sunday papers or playing Scrabble. Luca found their joie de vivre grating. He had only come for Freya, having lost touch with her over the years.
He admired her home, her family, her obvious contentment, and realised that in the last two decades he had somehow drifted off course. He blew smoke against the glass, lost in a fog of melancholy as he considered his life. Father of two little girls entangled in the wreckage of an acrimonious divorce. Unemployed, having quit the City after twenty years as a fund manager, making money with such dedication that making money had become an end in itself — a greedy, empty existence that gave him no satisfaction.
Click here to read the first chapter. Luca is staying at the haunted Palazzo of a tiny Amalfi Coast village as he recovers from a failed marriage and too many years of high-pressured moneymaking in the City. He falls in love with a mysterious woman dressed in mourning clothes and as he learns about her loss he realises that he is surrounded by the spirits of the dead, who reveal to him their long-held secrets. It is as believable as the writing is beautiful. However, fans will be relieved that all her other ingredients are present and correct: The fictitious palazoo and town were described so believably I could imagein myself there, and the esoteric element brought extra excitement.
I love stories that provoke emotion and The Italian Matchmaker did just that. The sub-plots and absorbing twists made it a real page-turner. The message of the book is that good things can often come from bad situations. This book has everything you could want — unrequited love, romance, death, mystery and a haunting. The Italian Matchmaker will light up even the most gloomy of readers. I have always wanted to write about spirits. Having seen them all my life they are part of my reality.
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However, although they feature a little here and there in my previous novels, I was always nervous about being too unconventional. Then, I reached a point where I had written 8 novels and I felt the time was right to try something different. So, I built a love story around the spiritual theme and based it in Incantellaria, where my fifth novel, Last Voyage of The Valentina was based. I wanted to return to the Amalfi coast and it seemed silly to make up another location.
Besides, I rather relished bringing back some old characters. In the back of the book you write that you wanted to write this book for years. Why was that and why did you not write it sooner?
I like to set my novels in England and abroad. I like the contrast between hot southern countries like Latin America, Italy and France, and our rather drizzly, grey England. I lived in Argentina as a 19 year old and based my first novel there because I fell in love with the country. She is Anglo- Argentine.
I loved these settings so much that my following two novels were based in Argentina as well. My tenth novel comes out next year and is based in South Africa. Have you visited all the places you write about? Is that important for your writing? I write about cultures I feel I know well.
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Having spent so much time in Argentina where the people are a mixture of French, Italian and Spanish, I feel I know them well. The palazzo of the story, does that exist in real life can we visit it? Incantellaria is not a real place. I imagined it to be on the Amalfi coast, near Sorrento.
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