The Rome Affair by Karen Swan – Book Review


Book: The Rome Affair 

Author: Karen Swan

Publisher: Pan Macmillan (Published 13 July 2017)


“The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.”


4.5 out of 5 stars.

I adore Karen Swan’s books. This is the 7th book of hers that I read, and hence I had very high expectations about a page-turning novel, with fascinating characters development, and I looked forward to an enchanting story.

It is not my most favorite book of hers, but it definitely delivered on all the above. The story takes place predominantly in the stunning capital of Italy – Rome, which I personally adore. I found the author’s way to portray the city, its ancient buildings, narrow streets, cosy cafes and restaurants, fashion, lifestyle and so much more, extremely compelling. I am sure that readers, who have never visited that gorgeous place, would feel irresistibly drawn to it. It made me long to go back. This is usually the effect that all Swan’ novels have on me – they ignite my passion to travel, to experience, even places I have visited many times before.

The story is split between 2017 Rome and 1970-1980 Rhode Island-New York-Rome. It is very easy to get emotionally involved in both parts of the story, and they are both leaving you craving for more! I love how the author makes a perfect spinning of the story, keeping the suspense, while gradually revealing answers to burning questions.

The book reminds us that often life might seem glamorous on the surface, but beyond are layers of hard-work, loneliness, countless dreams, limited by circumstances often out of our control. Things are not what they always seem, and we are reminded not to be fast to judge others.

All and all, the book gives us a clever and mesmerizing tale, filled with rich emotions, majestic palaces, suspense, love, secrets, tragedy, mystery, culture, and hopes. I am already looking forward to starting the next novel, perfect for the summer months, namely The Summer Without you.

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