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The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore
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The House by the Sea (2010)

by Santa Montefiore

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English (4)  Dutch (3)  All (7)
Showing 4 of 4
I liked the story concept,and the characters.The locales were lovely. I liked the character development.
But the story just moved too slow, I gave up halfway thru the book.It just needed some energy to move along.
( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Will finish this book but I hope her other books move a little quicker then this one did. ( )
  mchwest | Nov 20, 2014 |
This was a very sweet love story on several levels. I enjoyed the way the author portrayed a not so perfect family in a very real way and their trials in life. ( )
  Silversi | Jan 21, 2013 |
This review first appeared on my blog: http://www.knittingandsundries.com/2011/05/egalley-wednesday-may-18-2011-mermaid...

The Mermaid Garden flows from past to present and back almost effortlessly.

The past: A young girl named Floriana in Tuscany, whose mother is believed to have run off with a man and left her with her drunken father. She has unlimited freedom to explore, and as she is looking over the wall of a villa that she likes to visit, she meets a boy named Dante, whose family owns the villa. He invites her in to explore the garden, and they become friends. She even falls in love with him a little bit, despite the fact that she is only 10 and he is a teenager going off to school at the end of the summer. We follow her and her friend Costanza, whose mother only allows her to play with Floriana because there are no "children of quality" for her to play with, through the following summers as they both become frequent visitors to the villa.

The present: Marina and Grey Turner run the Polzanze Hotel. One of Marina's sorrows is that she has no children of her own, and her stepchildren, especially Grey's 23-year-old daughter Clementine, don't treat her as a mother, even though she has been in their lives since they were very small children. In fact, Clementine is bitter, resentful, and selfish, lamenting the fact that she is no longer free to travel and "find herself", because she now has to work and make her own living.

When Marina decides to bring in an "artist-in-residence" to help the failing fortunes of the hotel, both past and present will come together.

I loved the writing style of this novel. The prose was very descriptive and the emotions and character-development were spot on. As usual for me, I liked the story set in the past a bit better :). There were, however, a few things that didn't ring true for me, and they are the reason this is not a five-star rating. Clementine - well, there's no way that you can go from being a spoiled, selfish, grown-up brat overnight to an understanding and loving person the next day. It just doesn't happen like that. Her romance also wasn't fully-formed and fleshed-out; it came up lacking in my view. BUT, those were the only sticking points for me, as the book kept me interested from start to finish. I was able to figure out early on what the mystery/secret would be, but that didn't keep me from wanting to know how it would all come out in the end. A gorgeous read.

QUOTE (from a galley; may be different in final copy):

Marina's good mood evaporated as Clementine sucked the air out of the room, replacing it with her dark presence. She glanced at her husband and felt nothing but contempt for her stepdaughter, who constantly rebuffed him. ( )
  jewelknits | May 18, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Santa Montefioreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rijsewijk, Erica vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Een Italiaans landgoed, een zomer zonder einde...
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Voor mijn dierbare Sebag, met veel liefs
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Het kleine meisje stond voor de imposante zwarte hekken van Villa Magdalena en tuurde de oprijlaan af.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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UK Edition: 'The House by the Sea'.
USA edition: 'The Mermaid Garden'.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Toscane, 1968. Van buiten de imposante muren van Villa Magdalena probeert een klein, in vodden gehuld meisje een glimp op te vangen van het huis en de schitterende tuinen van een van de machtigste families van Italie. Voor Floriana is het spieden naar het huis een dagelijks ritueel " en een manier om de ellende en armoede van alledag te vergeten. Maar op een warme zomerdag wordt ze betrapt door Dante Bonfanti, de knappe zoon des huizes. Floriana en Dante weten beiden niet hoe hun toekomst door deze ontmoeting zal veranderen.

Devon, 2009. Marina Turner is de geliefde tweede vrouw van Grey Turner, en de gehate stiefmoeder van zijn dochter Clementine. Al jaren beheren Marina en Grey het Hotel Polzanze, maar de zaken gaan de laatste tijd erg slecht. Als laatste redmiddel om nieuwe gasten te trekken huurt Marina een artist-in-residence in: Rafa Santoro. Met zijn knappe uiterlijk en Latino charme zal deze Argentijnse schilder het hotel weer tot leven moeten wekken, en misschien heeft hij ook een helende invloed op de onrustige Clementine. Maar Rafa zal meer doen dan dat: hij heeft zijn eigen redenen om in het hotel te werken. Zijn komst zal Marina en Clementine terugvoeren naar Villa Magdalena van vele jaren geleden.

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Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens and imagine that one day she'll escape her meager existence and live there surrounded by its other worldly splendor. Then one day Dante, the son of the villa's powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside and shows her the enchanting Mermaid Garden. From that moment, Floriana knows that the only destiny for her is there, in that garden, with Dante. But as they grow up and fall in love, their romance causes a crisis, jeopardizing the very thing they hold most dear. Decades later and hundreds of miles away, a beautiful old country house hotel on England's Devon coast has fallen on hard times after the financial crash of 2008. Its owner, Marina, advertises for an artist to stay the summer and teach the guests how to paint. The man she hires is charismatic and wise and soon begins to pacify the discord in her family and transform the fortunes of the hotel. However, he has his own agenda. Is it to destroy, to seduce, or to heal? Whatever his intentions, he is certain to change Marina's life forever.--From inside front jacket cover.… (more)

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