Have you ever had an idea of what something might be like but then it’s totally different? It was November 1884, and Elena Spires had been traveling for two weeks. When the reader first meets her, she’s in Venice on a gondola. When the gondolier stops before the Ca’ Basillo, she observes, “the three-story palazzo was white stone, and so ruined I thought perhaps the gondolier had got it wrong. No one could possibly live here.” She finds the housekeeper, Giulia, most unwelcoming.
Elena had been sent by her father from New York to nurse Samuel Farber back to health after he’d been badly beaten – then to return him to New York where he is betrothed to be married in January. His friend, Nero Basillo, allowed him to stay at the palazzo as long as he needed to recuperate. It doesn’t take Elena long to feel that things are amiss, like she is being watched. She observes the strange waking dreams Samuel has of an angel. Elena believes he is hallucinating until she also begins to see something … but what?
It’s a wonderful story but I felt it was just a bit drawn out. Elena is a very appealing character with a bit of naivety and I could feel her frustration as she was trying to tend to Samuel Farber’s needs without an ounce of help from anyone. Even the ‘not so nice’ characters were believable and well-defined. The author uses wonderful imagery of the scenes so that the reader can practically imagine him or herself there. Rating: 4 out of 5.