“The world is changing. For the better, I hope.“
JP O’Connell ~ Hotel Portofino
Hotel Portofino has been open for only a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its owner Bella Ainsworth. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she’s being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy.
To make matters worse, her marriage is in trouble, and her children are still struggling to recover from the repercussions of the Great War. All eyes are on the arrival of a potential love match for her son Lucian, but events don’t go to plan, which will have far reaching consequences for the whole family.
A Room with a View meets My House in Umbria. A tranquil Riviera setting, with a backdrop of drama, fascism and betrayal.
Hotel Portofino begins well, with a British hotel on the Italian Riviera, ready to cater to the rich and famous. And there are plenty of interesting people staying and working at the hotel. The book reads almost like an Agatha Christie; had there been a dead body all of the diverse guests and the hotel’s staff would have been sat incredulously ready for Poirot to reveal the murderer’s identity. (Un)fortunately there isn’t a body, but there is a stolen painting, forbidden love, arranged marriages, domestic abuse, passionate affairs, racism and more.
Although well-written it feels unnecessarily modern are time. There’s also a lack of plot resolution; nothing feels finite and the ending is abrupt, unfinished and disappointing.
The guests are rich and have some fascinating back stories that drew my attention and kept me engaged in what is quite a slow-paced book. Sadly the characters don’t have enough time to develop and are therefore not enough to make up for the weak, convoluted plot. It’s a good insight into Italy before Mussolini took control and the contrast between the ugly realities of war and the beautiful scenery is cleverly done, but the story itself leaves a lot to be desired
That said, I can’t wait for the TV series, which will hopefully transform the story into a powerful drama.
I was provided with a copy by Random Things Tours. Opinions my own.