Season Of Storms
by Susanna Kearsley, contemporary (2001)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13111-3


A big thank you to the author for saving me thousands of bucks. I don't have to actually visit Italy now, because Season Of Storms does a much better job than any tourist guide ever could. Ooh, the gondola rides in Venice. The grand house of Il Piacere with all those unpronounceable architectural grandeurs. Plus, unlike a real life tour, I doubt I can live in grand bedrooms and wander around moonlit gardens of grand remote estates, at least vicariously, the way I did in this story. And how many tourist guides you know that adds to the romantic mood with Shakespearean lines?

Story? Uh... is there a story? I do know I have read almost 200 pages without even realizing that anything, much less a story, is taking place. Uh, oh yeah, something about our heroine Celia Sands being invited to play the lead role in legendery early 20th century playwright Galeazzo D'Ascanio's swan song. The producer? Alessandro D'Ascanio, grandson of the late Gally. At first, Celia is not pleased to be given a role on the basis of her name alone - she shares the same name with Gally's mistress whom the play was created for. But her uncle Rupert soon persuades her to go to Italy - it's going to be his directorial swan song, and Celia can't say no. After all, Uncle Roo is her substitute Electra complex fixation, since her Daddy is MIA and she hates her Mommy.

So they go to Italy. 100 pages have passed and we are frolicking in Venice. Then we reach the grand house of Il Piacerre and we are given a grand tour of every bedroom, every hall, every nook and cranny. Just beautiful. It's a mediterranean Lifestyles Of The Dead, Rich, and Famous, with some ghostly elements thrown in. Everyone - Celia, Alex, Uncle Roo, American Den, and the rest - fit a Shakespearean character mould perfectly (Alex is Hamlet, for example). And my, I have such a wonderful time taking in the scenery. Ms Kearsley doesn't skimp on her powers of description.

Of course, with a pace as slow as snails going uphill, it is also very easy for me to put the book down. Or fall asleep midway through a long chapter, where ten pages feel like a thousand and every word a million words. But good thing about slow pace is, I could fall asleep and forget about what I've read in the last chapter or accidentally skip a chapter or two and still won't know the difference. Maybe this author can start a new subgenre altogether. Virtual travelogues, anyone?

Rating: 79


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