Alberta Monte (“Bert” to friends) seems to have won the lottery, when a letter arrives at her home saying that she is the last living heir to an Italian noble family and that she has now inherited a title, a ton of money and even a castle high in the Italian alps. After a short but lavish visit to Turin, Italy, she is then whisked to her ancestral castle, (which is in a state of ruin and desolation). There Bert will discover her family’s hidden and somewhat horrible history and what it means for her future.
I find it hard, almost impossible to try and review this book. The reason for that is that I feel that I will spoil this book for anyone reading this. I don’t want to spoil anything, mainly because I went into this book based solely on people that have similar taste as me enjoyed the book. I avoided all kinds of reviews. All I had whilst going in the book was the aesthetics of the cover and the name of the book, otherwise I was clueless. I feel that that made the reading experience so much better, because Bert’s search for the truth becomes our search, she knows as much as the reader. This for me made the reading experience more immersive and engaging. Bert is a great character, at the beginning she is like a fish out of water, but she finds herself growing as a person in her new surroundings.
Now the story is told from first point of view from Bert, but it is also her remembering what happened, so you have a sense that everything will turn out for the better, but just almost.
The landscape of the Italian alps is rendered in all their frozen glory, you envision the frozen and stony peaks and the snowy valley as you read. For the castle Montebianco, you can almost hear the steps the characters in the book make when walking on its stony floors. There is no doubt about it, Trussoni writes the landscape and set-pieces with such a vibrant touch that (for me at least) you feel like you are high in the alps themselves. It all has quite a gothic feel to it and yet, at the same time not quite gothic.
Without trying to spoil anything I also want to talk about the underlying theme of the book. The theme as far as I saw it (I could be wrong and reading too much into it) the theme is motherhood, or rather the difficulties one encounters if one has problems conceiving and bearing a child to term. This is something Bert and the women in her family have some experience with. But it is also about how motherhood is more than birthing children, it is about being responsible for something bigger, a matron of sorts. Ok, I guess this does not make much sense, but I cannot write more about it before I am mired in spoiler-ville.
So, if you are into reading a well written and engaging story with an ever-developing mystery steeped in atmosphere set in a distant location? Well, then pick up a copy of the book!