An unflinching Italian patriarch gathers his family at the ancestral home to reveal a devastating legacy..
“it’s not often that a book lingers in my mind unless they are kind of special and this is one of those books.” ★★★★★
“I loved, loved, loved it! Such an astoundingly beautiful love story imbedded in a family history that speaks volumes to what we all do at times to make our lives seem less ephemeral. So so amazing and beautifully written!”
“Get it , Read it , Love it!” ★★★★★
Haunted by a lifetime of regret and on the eve of his 80th birthday, Francesco Corbelli reassembles his family at the ancestral home, ‘Il Rifugio’, on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. His intention is to put right all the mistakes of the past and secure a future for his family.
His children expect a celebration. They are not prepared for the litany of lies and deceits that their father is about to reveal. This is a family already in pieces – will the truth finally bring them together or tear them apart forever?
Set in Umbria, A Silent Shore spans three generations of the Corbelli family and warns of what can happen when pride and expectation come before love.
“If you like stories about secrets, about deceit and betrayal, about family rivalries, about hedonism and lust and love and the damage that can be caused by the careless use of power and sex, strongly written with genuinely touching moments, then this might be right up your street.”
An excerpt taken from chapter 10 of ‘A Silent Shore’:
It should have been comforting for Izzy to find herself back in her childhood bedroom. Nothing had really changed. The decoration remained the same; the furniture was laid out just as it had always been. Her single iron bedstead was still pushed up against the wall, smothered with scatter cushions, and her wicker armchair remained by the French doors overlooking the front of the house.
Izzy flung open the shutters, flooding the room with late afternoon sunlight and settled into the chair just as she had as a child. From this position she had a clear view of the driveway and therefore of whoever was coming and going. In the old days this had afforded her great delight as she had been able to spy on the elite and wealthy as they had arrived for yet another of her parents’ weekend parties. Though she hadn’t really known whom any of them were, their cars and expensive clothes suggested people of great importance and she used to dream of the day she would be allowed to join them. But it was never to come. She could still remember how, in the very early days she had watched, spellbound, as Christy and Francesco greeted each arrival, martini glasses in hand, and welcomed them into the house. But as the years passed the guest list had dwindled and Christy was seen less and less on Francesco’s arm. By the time Izzy entered her teens it was more common to hear raised voices coming from her mother’s bedroom as Francesco demanded his wife’s presence downstairs. So instead the guests were greeted by Vincenzo, decked out in full butler attire, and then, after his death, Pietronella. Izzy had even known her mother to sneak into her own bedroom from time to time to watch the goings‐on with her, the pair of them giggling like best friends, the acrid smell of alcohol on her mother’s breath.
When study and married life allowed, Lorenzo and Natalia would return from the city with their father. They were both now fully-fledged adults and warmly welcomed at their father’s parties. Francesco would proudly introduce them to his peers whilst the younger members of the family were banished to their rooms until morning. This used to drive Maria wild with envy and she would constantly bleat to her stepmother about it as Christy dressed for the evening.
“Why can’t I come downstairs? I’m not a child anymore! I’m nearly sixteen!” she would demand, stamping her foot.
“Then act like it. Until you know how to behave like a lady you’re staying up here with the children.”
It wasn’t until Maria’s eighteenth birthday that Francesco finally relented but, fully understanding Maria’s wild streak, was sure to insist on some conditions.
“First of all,” Francesco commanded, “you will dress like a woman. I will not have my daughter slouching around in jeans and plaid shirts. These people are high society.”
“You are to listen to what Christy tells you. She’ll take you into Rome to find you something appropriate. Please be accommodating.”
“And finally,” he paused for emphasis, “do not let me down.”
When the time finally came for Maria’s grand unveiling Stefano and Izzy, as the only two not allowed downstairs, hid in Izzy’s room watching events unfold below.
Out on the driveway Francesco and Christy welcomed their guests. Among them were the usual, older generation of business tycoons and politicians that Izzy was used to seeing but in addition this time there was a younger crowd. Although this was not formally a party to mark Maria’s birthday, Christy had asked Lorenzo and Natalia to invite some of their friends to inject the evening with a more youthful atmosphere. Though whether this was more for her own benefit rather than Maria’s remained to be seen. After all, no one had asked Maria if she would like to invite any of her friends. Both Francesco and Christy had felt they would be too young and naive to know how to behave in front of such sophisticated company.
They came in their droves that night, the men sleek in their suits, the women floating in chiffon or slinking in satin. By the time everyone had arrived, Izzy had counted at least fifteen parked cars crammed onto the driveway and who knew how many more snaked their way down the hill? With the arrivals over, Izzy and Stefano scuttled off to hide in Christy’s bedroom, which looked out over the pool. They knew they’d be in terrible trouble were they found out but this was a party not to be missed.
It started off well enough. Francesco had employed an army of waiters and waitresses who threaded their way through the guests ensuring glasses were always fully charged. Silver platters of hors d’oeuvres twirled as laughter and cigarette smoke wove its way up into the night sky. Izzy and Stefano tried hard to make out what was being said but it was almost impossible to pick out one voice from the general hubbub below. Then it all went ominously quiet. What had happened? Who had walked in? Izzy and Stefano leaned precariously over the railing, desperate to see what was going on and not caring whether they were caught. People were whispering, then somebody began to clap and finally everyone joined in and the laugher and merriment resumed. Izzy and Stefano were still at a loss as to what had happened until they saw Francesco hustling Christy away from the throng to a quieter corner right beneath their window.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Francesco hissed as he gripped her tightly by the elbow.
“What do you mean? You told me to..”
“I told you to get her a dress. Not turn her into a whore!” he spat.
“Well I think she looks beautiful,” said Christy, shell-shocked at his response.
“Pah. You English never did have any taste.”
“Then why did you marry me?” she asked, staring defiantly into his eyes.
“Keep your voice down. Not content with humiliating my daughter you now want to make a scene in front of our guests?”
“Oh good God, no. We mustn’t make a scene must we?” She shook her arm free of his grasp, “If you’ll excuse me.”
Then, as if nothing had happened, Francesco greeted a late arrival with a smile and a solid pat on the back before leading them into the throng. Things settled down a while after that. Izzy and Stefano finally caught sight of Maria by the pool; at least they thought it was Maria. Her hair pinned high on her head, a plunging purple dress that revealed a décolletage no one had seen before, Maria reminded Izzy of a young Elisabeth Taylor. She was simply stunning and it was clear the men at the party thought so too. But as much as Maria flirted and giggled there was something about her demeanour that made Izzy wonder.
The party began to wane some time around two in the morning as guests made their excuses so Izzy and Stefano decided it was time they crept back to bed. As they peered around Christy’s bedroom door to check if the coast was clear they were alarmed to see Maria charging up the corridor; her face streaked with mascara as she pulled pins from her hair. They ducked back in behind the door.
“That’s the last time I listen to you!” she shouted over her shoulder as Christy came running up the hallway after her.
“Don’t be silly Maria. You look incredible!”
“Papa says I look cheap. And all those men trying to paw me. It was disgusting. I don’t know how you live with yourself.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Parading yourself like that. Men leering at you. No wonder Papa is ashamed.”
There was a sharp slap as Christy struck Maria across the face. Then a door slammed and Izzy and Stefano held their breath. Hiding in Christy’s room they were surely going to be found out. But instead Christy turned on her heel and marched back down the corridor. They breathed a collective sigh of relief before hugging tightly and sprinting back to their respective bedrooms.
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