The Mermaid Garden
Touchstone, May 3 2011, $24.99
In 1966 in Tuscany, her mother dumps ten year old Floriana Farussi on her alcoholic father before leaving. Floriana falls in love with teenage Dante Bonfanti. He is amused by her élan for life. However as they grow up, each knows they are soulmates.
In 2009 in Devon, Marina and Grey Turner fear they will lose their Hotel Polzanze. They hire Argentine painter Rafa Santori to provide lessons to their guests. This proves successfully until Grey's miserable daughter Clementine arrives to the chagrin of her stepmother who knows her husband’s offspring mantra is misery loves miserable people. However, everyone has issues, which makes it unlikely that the artist and the daughter will connect in spite of being in love.
These two tales of young people in love at two locales over four decades apart deftly comingle into a cohesive entertaining story. Although straightforward in both eras, readers will feel they are walking the gardens of Tuscany and Devon accompanying the fully developed casts from both periods; as Santa Montefiore provides a wonderful warm character study of paradise found, lost and regained.