A vintage necklace. A long-hidden secret. A second chance for love.
When costume designer Ariana Ricci leaves her groom at the altar, she seeks solace at the Palm Springs home of her great-aunt, a Texas-born Hollywood legend who began her career as an extra on the film Roman Holiday. While opening yellowed, 1950s letters postmarked Italy, Ariana discovers relics from her great-aunt’s hidden past, including an intriguing necklace that Audrey Hepburn gave her during the filming of the movie.
Aching for a fresh start and the chance to resolve an unfinished story, the two embark on a journey to the sun-dappled shores of Lake Como, Italy that will illuminate secrets of a bygone era and offer second chances to each of them—if they are bold enough to seize them.
I was gifted an audiobook of Hepburn’s Necklace by the author for the purpose of review, for which she has my sincere thanks. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.
I have to say, when I started listening to this book on audio, I found it quite slow going. My usual choice of audiobook would be a thriller, as I find these quite pacy to listen to rather than read. Since I was actually enjoying the story, despite the pace being off for me on audio, I switched to the ebook version which I purchased for myself, and raced through it to the end in a couple of days.
This is a love story, told in a dual timeline and set in Italy, on the set of the film Roman Holiday and on the shores of Lake Como. For starters, I am an absolute sucker for a film set in Italy, so I was predisposed to love this book from the beginning. The author does an absolutely fantastic job of evoking all the sights, sounds, scents and flavours of Italy throughout this book. You will feel like you have had a holiday to the beautiful, fresh shores of Lake Como by the time you’ve finished, although you will be left with an unfulfillable wish to own your own historic villa on its wave-lapped shores, I warn you. If only Amal hadn’t already bagged George Clooney!
I thought the premise of setting a story around the shooting of such an iconic film was inspired, and I loved my glimpse into that world. Ruby, as the young ingenue on her first movie, away from home and falling in love for the first time, is the stuff that all great romances are made of and she is such a likeable and believable character. Jan’s exploration of the expectations placed on young girls in that period, and the pressures put on them from all sides, especially in Hollywood, makes for a really emotional and fascinating backdrop to the love story.
In the modern day, I enjoyed the visit to Italy, as I said. I found Ariana’s story, and her character, a little less inspiring than Ruby’s and, if I had a minor complaint, it would be that the book felt a tint bit unbalanced in that regard. Ruby was such a strong character though, it would be hard for anyone to emerge from her shadow. Also, the coincidences in the relationships between everyone by the end stretched credibility a step too far for me, you may feel differently.
Despite these minor niggles, I did thoroughly enjoy this book. The flavour of old Hollywood, the beauty of Italy, the strong and emotional storyline for Ruby and the complexities of family relationships, all come together to form an exciting and rewarding read. For me, it just worked better on the page than in the ear. Would make a great sun lounger read this summer, even if it is only in your back garden!
Hepburn’s Necklace is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
About the Author
Jan Moran is a USA Today bestselling author of women’s fiction. She writes stylish, uplifting, and emotionally rich contemporary and 20th-century historical women’s fiction. The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful.
Her books are also translated into German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, and other languages. Jan studied writing at the UCLA Writers Program, sailed on Semester at Sea, and graduated from the University of Texas and Harvard Business School. She lives near the beach in southern California.
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