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Last Train From Liguria

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  594 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
From the bestselling Irish novelist comes a sweeping historical novel, a tale of consequences that spans from the 1930s to the 1990s. "Last Train from Liguria" takes us on a journey from claustrophobic Dublin and the tense formality of London, to the heat and bustle of the Italian Riviera. Bella lives a cosseted life with her father in London. So when he announces that he ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Atlantic (first published June 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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This is the title I have chosen for my first book to read for the Italy in Books Reading Challenge, where over the year, month by month I intend to read a book fiction or non-fiction set in Italy, with a total of twelve in all. They will probably not be the obvious choices that come to mind as because of my love for the country I have already read a considerable number of books set here over the years.

I have never read anything by this author before so I have no comparisons to make with previous
Aug 06, 2011 Ali rated it really liked it
This novel is currently available for just 99p on kindle - quite a bargin. I must say I enjoyed it immensely. Well written with a lightish touch, I was hooked from page 1.

Christine Dwyer Hickey's characters are realistic and flawed, Edward haunted by a dark past, secretive, an occasional drinker, Bella a thirty something spinster with an eating disorder. Young Alec the child Bella cares for and comes to love, is an unusual boy, probably what today we may recognise as having Asbergers syndrome. F
Sep 28, 2011 BoekenTrol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bedazzle
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: iwanttobeinital
I found this a nice book.
There's a couple of reasons why it is not a WOW, like I expected it to be.
First of all I was a bit disappointed by the story itself. It was quite slow. In iteslef, there's nothing wrong with that, but only when the book / the story got to an end the pace went up for a while. At least I could feel the tension that took hold of the main characters.

Then I missed the story of Bella now. I know thather granddaughter takes over her role (more or less), but I still think it is
Frank Parker
Jan 07, 2013 Frank Parker rated it really liked it
The principle protagonist of this novel is the daughter of an Irish surgeon practicing in London in the 1930’s. She is hired as nanny to the son of a wealthy Italian couple where she meets the boy’s reclusive Irish music teacher. We know things about him that she doesn’t because the book opens with an episode from his past. There are other changes of point of view and location as the book progresses, with a disreputably louche teacher in 1990s Dublin. The connection between these two is revealed ...more
Maggie White
I found the title of this book very misleading. The train journey is only a few pages long and seemed almost irrelevent to the story. This is set in pre-war Italy and post-war England/Ireland then there is a modern day section which I found confusing and irritating. It lent nothing to the story at all. the ending is very rushed and abrupt. There are a lot of unanswered questions and the characters could have been further developed. The back page synopsis was full of promise and I felt let down ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Chrissi rated it liked it
A well written book although it was incredibly slow to start and jumped all over the place. I also didn't think the characters were developed enough for you to really care about them.
Kate Yoder
Jun 12, 2015 Kate Yoder rated it it was ok
Found this book on my WWOOF host's shelf and decided to read it because the main characters, hilariously, are named Edward and Bella. I was intrigued by the pre-WWII setting in Italy, which turned out to be the best part of the book.

I can't say I really felt attached to any of the characters, and their mysteries were dragged out a little too long. Bella basically fainted whenever anything exciting started happening. Frustrating. At the beginning of the novel, I was convinced she was a late teen
Mrs Rachel Menna Hamlyn
I bought this to read on our last holiday abroad before my son was born 5 years ago and have only just got round to it. Consequently, I was looking forward to inhabiting a forgotten gem. The book wasn't quite everything I'd hoped. The language is extraordinary with opulent descriptions and vivid imagery. It did, however, take me a while to get the rhythm and get caught up in the book.

I enjoyed the intertwining themes and story seen from different perspectives. The bulk of the novel takes place i
Aug 29, 2016 Desiree rated it liked it
I am a bit of two minds about this book. On the one hand it is well written and the story about the Irish spinster Bella who gets sent to the Italian riviera by her father where she settles in the household of the ever absent Lami family is certainly intriguing. Some readers have commented that the story is a bit slow but I find that this contributes to the sense of creeping rise of fascism that slowly seeps into the story and in fact into Italian society.

On the other hand I found the book a bit
Sarah Henderson
Apr 06, 2016 Sarah Henderson rated it it was ok
I was quite disappointed with this book. The characters were completely unlikeable and both them and the story was, well, boring. The main female protagonist's reaction to anything close to exciting is to faint. What a cliché! The only thing that spurred me on to finish was the settings of Italy and London on the cusp of war, which was interesting, but nowhere near as interesting as it could have been. The tie-in story set in modern day Dublin is depressing and irrelevant, just adding yet ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
Oh so wonderfully told. Such a beautiful story, so heart breaking. My heart ached for Bella. For Alec. For Edward. What a wonderful story, showing one little slice of how the war affected peoples, families, friendships.
Aug 03, 2012 Amelia rated it really liked it
Interesting and moving story, characters and setting. Liked the writing style. Will now have a look at some of her other novels.
Mar 27, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an easy read but not unsubstantial. I very much enjoyed the parts set in Italy, other parts, less so. The ending was rather nondescript and lacked any import, I thought.
Jul 09, 2013 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5--a rather strange book. The description sounded very good, but in reality I was disappointed. It seemed to ramble and the ending was very abrupt.
Elizabeth Moffat
I enjoyed this book much better than her previous offering tatty, and on the whole it was beautifully written but I couldn't warm to any of the characters.
Lynn Hutchinson
Jul 15, 2016 Lynn Hutchinson rated it did not like it
Disjointed, lots of unfinished ends. Wouldn't choose to read another of hers!
Oct 02, 2016 Lori rated it did not like it
I am really surprised by the good ratings for this book. It's a very subtle story, and a slow one, with little character development to give insight into motivations. I didn't find any of the main characters to be likable, and the story just dragged on and on, moving forward so slowly it was almost imperceptible. Although the basic conflict in the story, which is not delivered until about 3/4 of the way through, is an interesting premise, very little happens overall. (The title, as well as the ...more
Dec 05, 2010 Faa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Bella set sailed for Sicily, less she knew that her decision had actually sealed her fate forever. This is the story of determination of a girl who travelled far away from her home just to build a new life, totally different from the life that she had previously.

The way it was told, promised us that not all war-stories ended with happy ending. It is sad to realized that Bella died alone, far away from her beloved place and without peoples she loved most, perhaps more than she loved her fat
Feb 07, 2013 Ann-Marie rated it liked it
"Last Train from Liguria" is part novel, part memoir, by a bestselling Irish novelist. Set between the 1930s and the 1990s It takes the reader on a journey from Dublin and the conventional London, to the heat and liveliness of the pre-war Italian Riviera. The female protagonist, Bella Stuart, leaves London, under heavy persuasion by her father, to become a tutor in Italy. The young boy she goes to tutor is the son of a Jewish heiress and an elderly Italian aristocrat. During her stay Bella ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Lucy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
I was surprised to find that this book had three storylines running through it, as only one appears in the synopsis. The first (and probably main) story is the story of Bella. A spinster essentially (considering her age and the time she was living in) who is sent to Italy in the reign of Mussolini by her father to care for a young boy- Alec.

The second story, which takes place in modern times, is that of a woman who watches as her Grandmother slowly dies in front of her eyes and finds out that de
Nov 01, 2012 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is the mid-1930s and Bella�s father sends her to Mussolini�s Italy to become a nanny to a young boy. Among growing anti-Semitism and political uncertainty, Bella grows to love the boy and his Jewish family, but is forced to flee as the threat of war grows ever stronger and life becomes increasingly difficult for Italy�s Jewish population. Insert extreme peril here![return][return]The book was mostly written from Bella�s perspective, with brief interludes from Edward at the beginning, and then ...more
Jun 26, 2014 Vee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such an interesting story, it started slowly, lots of character building, moving between London, Dublin, then Italy. The picture builds of the differing lifestyles and cultures. The main characters are all really hiding big parts of their personal lives. Bella finds the new lifestyle quite hard to get use to at first, but eventually grows to love everything about her new home. The child she has come to teach becomes very, very important to her. He looks to her for most of his emotional ...more
Aug 25, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it

I love a good story, it was even better when reading it lying on the beach and enjoying the sunshine over my back. I bought the "Last Train from Liguria" because I liked the title, the cover and the abstract at the back. It took me while to get used to Christine's style and really get into the story, as it develops rather slowly. It gave me the feeling that nothing happened through entire chapters, in a sense it gives the reader some space and time to get attached to the characters. Once you ar
Sep 21, 2011 P J rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is an extremely well crafted book; you can relax in the knowledge that Christine Dwyer Hickey will not let you down. A proper, confident novel that moves backwards and forwards in time and space and makes sure that you believe in where you are at any time – 1995 Dublin, Genoa 1933, Bordhigera 1938, Dublin 1924. But of course it also prods you with increasing unease as an Irish governess of a little Jewish boy is enfolded into an Italy in which Fascism is moving into the ascendency. Dublin ...more
Dora Okeyo
Jan 30, 2016 Dora Okeyo rated it really liked it
This book starts with a murder and we encounter the criminal fleeing the site of the crime. It's in Dublin 1924.
The protagonist of the story is a spinster named Bella who is the daughter of an Irish surgeon. She leaves her father's home to take up a job as a nanny to a wealthy Italian family. The story then is told from three viewpoints with one part set in 1933 and the other in 1995.
The pace is slow and nothing moved me after the first line until I crawled my way reading to page 168.

What I love
Jul 07, 2011 Terri rated it really liked it
I was captivated by this sad, sweet story of a group of ordinary people (imperfect, conflicted, and brave) who come together by chance or circumstance to form a close, familial bond in pre-war, fascist Italy. Stories that come out of wartime in any era or generation do not often have happy endings, nor do the protagonists always have the luxury of knowing the fate of friends and loved ones. This novel is no exception; nevertheless, the moving depiction of how these characters came to care for ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Trisha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This falls into the “not particularly outstanding, but a good read, nonetheless” category -- mainly because of the setting and time period (Dublin, London, and Italy before and during WWII). I wasn’t particularly drawn to either of the characters, though, because they seemed so hard to get close to: Bella, a middle aged, mousey woman whose overbearing father arranges for her to take a job as a governess in Italy; Edward, the little boy’s enigmatic piano teacher who’s ended up in Italy to escape ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Dorothy rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book - in fact I felt that I should like this book - but I couldn't finish it. It's odd because the language is amazing. Either the author sees the world in an unusually vivid way, or she spends hours searching for exactly the right unusual adjectives and verbs!

It's a book worth reading for anyone interested in language - I found myself constantly stopping to admire a turn of phrase. But for me, I think that was the problem. The chapters are written in alternating p
Aug 29, 2009 Celeste rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I made an exception to my WWII/Holocaust sabbatical, since this was sort of for a bookclub and it was really the lead up to WWII in Italy. There is the main story in the 1920s-1938, and then there is a modern story set in 1995. I thought the modern story was completely unnecessary and detracted from the book since it just seemed gimmicky, but the main story was fairly evocative of 1930s Italy and Europe as the war approached (as far as I know). And that part of the story was original enough, ...more
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Christine Dwyer Hickey is a novelist and short-story writer. Her novel Tatty was short-listed for Irish Book of the Year in 2005 and was also long-listed for The Orange Prize. Her novels, The Dancer, The Gambler and The Gatemaker were re-issued in 2006 as The Dublin Trilogy three novels which span the story of a Dublin family from 1913 to 1956.

Twice winner of the Listowel Writers Week short story
More about Christine Dwyer Hickey...

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