Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Italian Wife” as Want to Read:
The Italian Wife
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Italian Wife

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  2,048 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Italy, 1932 -- Mussolini's Italy is growing from strength to strength, but at what cost?

One bright autumn morning, architect Isabella Berotti sits at a café in the vibrant centre of Bellina, when a woman she's never met asks her to watch her ten-year-old daughter, just for a moment. Reluctantly, Isabella agrees -- and then watches in horror as the woman climbs to the top o
Paperback, 437 pages
Published June 2015 by Sphere 94 (first published November 25th 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThe Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. RoseA Desperate Fortune by Susanna KearsleyMademoiselle Chanel by C.W. GortnerThe Last Queen of India by Michelle Moran
Historical Fiction 2015
374 books — 2,159 voters
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie BrennanGirls in White Dresses by Jennifer CloseLighthouse Bay by Kimberley FreemanThe Oaken Throne by Robin JarvisIsabelle in the City by Laurence Yep
109 books — 9 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dale Harcombe
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of Italy under Mussolini, something I admit to knowing little about. The story starts in 1922 when Isabella Berotti’s husband was killed and she was severely wounded, leaving her with pain, a permanent limp and a lot of questions. Ten years later Isabella is an architect, something very rare for a woman back in that time and country. She has been working on the created town of Bellina. While relaxing in a café, a woman brings her a child and asks her to keep an eye on her. The wo ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
well I tried to read something different. I tried to read NOT ONLY an adult book but ALSO a historical fiction. last fucking time I do that ??? well not really, I'll keep digging. But this is NOT the start to the 'lets branch out' campaign I wanted.

The Italian Wife is set in Italy during the Mussolini era. Our main character, Isabelle, is an architect who's husband Luigi died ten years ago in a shooting. After a girl called Rosa comes into her care, Isabelle must uncover the secrets of her and
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a nice book and it held my interest steadily till it's rather unrealistic happyendish conclusion. Some suspension of disbelief is necessary, but it's worthwhile. Chick-lit meets historical fiction here and inherits some of the better features of both.
Dinah Jefferies
Kate Furnivall is an enchantress whose love story, The Italian Wife, is set against the full of horror of Mussolini’s Italy. Hooked from the very first chapter, I adored being swept deeper and deeper into 1930s Italy. I had intended to take a peek, and then save the rest of the book for my upcoming holiday but, despite being bang in the middle of edits for my own third novel, I had to read on. The Italian Wife is the definition of a terrifically well written page-turner.
The location is brilliant
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, kindle, n, net-galley
The book is set in Italy when Mussolini was working to drain the Pontine Marshes to make 5 very superior towns. Isabella Berottie is an architect at a time when they were mainly male. She lost her husband 10 years ago. He was a ‘blackshirt’.

Her life is set to be turned upside down for a second time when a young mother asks her to look after her daughter for a few moments- but then commits suicide jumping from the clock tower. She’d said she had some information about her husband. As she tries to
Toni Osborne
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in Mussolini’s Italy in the early 1930’s, this well- researched novel clearly reflects a society where you needed to keep your thoughts to yourself and your actions well-guarded. The sense of unease, mistrust and fear resonates throughout this story. This novel is much more than an historical fiction it is one that relives a piece of history.

Isabella Berotti is the heroine, a female architect employed to work on Bellina (fictional city), on Pontine Marshes. Draining of the marches and the co
Jill's Book Cafe
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Set in 1932, the Italian Wife of the title is Isabella Berotti who was widowed ten years earlier when her Blackshirt husband Luigi was fatally shot. Isabella was also shot in the back and her life was irrevocably changed not just by her physical injuries, but by the mental scars she can't escape.

The catalyst that brings the past firmly to the fore is a meeting as she "sits at a café in the vibrant centre of Bellina, when a woman she's never met asks her to watch her ten-year-old daughter, just
Michelle Heatley
A Novel That Will Take Your Breath Away
The Italian Wife is a novel by Kate Furnivall set in the 1930’s when Mussolini’s ambition for a modern Italy was all consuming. Isabella Berotti fought though loss and despair to become an architect bringing Il Duce’s dream of building new towns the Pontine Marshes into reality. Her life is turned upside down when a young girl, Rosa, is thrust into her care the moment before the girl’s mother leaps to her death. Isabella’s certainty of the future she is bui
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very exciting look into Mussolini's Italy, Blackshirts and all. I found this book impossible to put down!

I immediately liked the lead character, Isabella Berotti, an architect when female architects were a rarity. A strong woman, though grievously wounded earlier in her life, she strode through life with a purpose, in spite of the many drawbacks in working for the fascist government.

I was fascinated by all of the characters, as they all made an impression, whether it be admiration or hatred. Th
Incy Black
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Furnivall is my go-to author when I crave something layered, pensive and atmospheric (setting), and she did not disappoint, not in any way.

The Italian Wife is more an experience than a read. You live the stink of corruption, feel the weight of the dictatorship, taste the suppressed anger, and thrill at the subtle acts of revolt--Yes, greater acts of rebellion occur as the plot builds, but its the every day ones against the ever present threat of punishment, that get you cheering.

Judith Spencer
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Yet another page turner from Kate. It is a fascinating insight into Mussolini and his regime, and very well researched.
The story gripped me from the very first page when Isobella an architect is sitting in a cafe, and a woman asks her to look after her child for a few minutes, only to discover she commits suicide from a building she designed.
The story has all kinds of twists and turns, and delves into Isabella's past when her husband was shot dead, and she was injured, and she sets out to find
Kathe Coleman
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Italian Wife by Kate Furnill
Set in Italy in the 1930’s when Mussolini’s grand plan was to drain the Pontine Marshes, the Argo Pontino in order to construct five opulent and architecturally superior towns. Isabella Berotti was a young widow of a “blackshirt” who diligently worked to become the only women architect in the area. As she is sitting at a café reminiscing about her painful past when a women asks her to watch her daughter promising to return shortly but she does not and Isabella is
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I have never read any Kate Furnivall's books before, really don't know why, but when I started reading this novel, I was totally lost in this story - only after the first few sentences and one of the most gripping, hooking opening chapters ever. I also heard a lot of fantastic opinions about Kate's books, and after reading this one I know why people love her stories so much. She has just won a new avid reader and fan in my person.

Isabella Berotti is a widow, living with her father in Bellina, on
Emma Crowley
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Furnivall's latest release The Italian Wife is easily her best yet. I feel like I say that whenever I read one of her books but it is true with this her eighth release. Kate is an author who can turn her hand to any setting or time in history and taking us back to Mussolini's rule in 1930's Italy certainly proved an eye opener for me. With one of the best opening chapters I have read in a long time, you are instantly drawn into the intriguing story of young architect Isabella Berotti. Kate' ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that took place in Mussolini’s Italy, so this was really interesting to read. And I’d never heard of the Pontine Marshes at all, so the whole idea of building a town where swamp used to be was really neat.

I didn’t like this as much as I’ve liked some of Kate Furnivall’s other stuff though. The motivation was a bit dodgy to me: Isabella is like one-track-mind level obsessed with finding out why her husband was shot 10 years ago, despite the fact that he was a b
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating read set in Italy during Mousolini's dictatorship. A time, place and events I knew little about, but now more enlightened. This was the 1st book of Kate Furnival's that I have read and it was a real page turner. I couldn't put it down. I can highly recommend this book.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kayt

The Italian Wife
By Kate Furnivall
ISBN: 9780751550764
Author Website:
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt


Italy, 1932 — Mussolini’s Italy is growing from strength to strength, but at what cost?

One bright autumn morning, architect Isabella Berotti sits at a café in the vibrant centre of Bellina, when a woman she’s never met asks her to watch her ten-year-old daughter, just for a moment. Reluctantly, Isabella agrees — and t
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thank you to the publisher for sending this book.

The rating is more a 3.5 than a 3, rounded down to 3. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was bothered by a few things, but I would probably read it again. It is one of these compelling historical fiction novels that make you want to keep reading.

The Good Points
- I really like the historical setting of the story. The novel is set in the Agro Pontino du
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Fans of Kate Furnivall's THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE will be thrilled to be wrapped up in her next novel, set in Mussolini's Italy. Isabella Berotti is a widow, after her husband, a Blackshirt in Mussolini's army, was shot and killed. Ten years later, Isabella is now an architect, building for one of the new Italian communities after the draining of the Pontine Marshes. While sitting at a cafe during a beautiful autumn morning, a woman approaches Isabella and asks her to watch her daughter for a momen ...more
Lara Maynard
The Italian Wife is a little outside of my reading comfort zone because of its commercial fiction/romance genre leanings, but its setting and historical fiction aspect appealed to me. I learned a little more about Fascist Italy in the 1930s (and afterwards through Furnivall's author's note at the back). The creation of five towns in the would-be Bread Basket of Rome was news to me, and prompted me to do a little more research online as I read the book and afterwards. I love it when a work of fic ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
My final April read was a historical book for grown ups, something I don’t read often. Oddly it is the second book I’ve read this year to feature elements of Mussolini’s Italy (Black Dove, White Raven was the first) – before this I don’t think I’d ever read anything about this element of history. This story focused on Isabella who lost her husband, one of Mussolini’s Blackshirts, in an attack some years before the book takes place. She has built a life for herself but this is affected entirely b ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Isabella becomes a widow in Chapter One. Her Blackshirt husband is shot dead and she is seriously wounded, but she still does not know who was responsible. Ten years later she is now an architect for Mussolini's enormous scheme. Mosquito ridden marshes are drained for farmland and she is working on designs for a new town. However her life is once again thrown into turmoil as a mother chooses to leave her daughter with Isabella then kills herself. Isabella is determined to find out why Rosa was l ...more
Shehanne Moore
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had added a review but it must not have saved. But maybe that is a good thing when my thoughts remain the same. Since I first cuddled up to Kate Furnivall's first book in a Tesco's car park, I have always loved her sheer story telling genius, her ability to see the story beyond the big picture. The Italian Wife starts with a cliff hanger and ends with me just hoping 3 people who have already suffered so much will survive the carnage that is war. I am saying nothing about whether they ...more
Claire Dyer
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kate Furnivall really knows how to write stories that are both epic and touchingly personal. In The Italian Wife she writes of a time in history which is well-documented but manages to give it a personal flavour which will stay long in the heart of the reader. Her settings are vivid and lively, her characters are deftly drawn and she deals with the major topics of betrayal, loyalty, love and loss with a light and compassionate touch. The story is a real page-turner in every sense of the word. I ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Italian Wife is a wartime story about architect Isabella Berotti, a young widow whose life is changed when she is approached by a woman and her daughter as she sits and drinks her morning coffee. All in her life is about to change as the war begins to swirl around them, and Isabella is now not sure who to trust to keep her safe.

I did enjoy the unique war story and it was nice that the story was only about Isabella, and not interrupted by a modern narrative, as I am tiring of that form of sto
Ruth Ross
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading The Italian Wife. I was so excited when I saw it in the book store, I bought it and everything went on hold while I read. I loved it, I was hooked from the very start, I sat there reading page after page and right throughout the book I was kept wanting to know what was coming next. As with all of Kate Furnivall's book this is another fantastic read, she is a very descriptive writer. Her way of writing grabs, hooks and makes you run with the story, you are the main charac ...more
Noelle Clark
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A stunningly visual story filled with passion, angst, heartache, and suspense. I could not put this book down. Beautifully written, this is a story that will transport you to an era where smoke and mirrors, corruption and bullying, sit juxtaposed with hope and promise. It will carry you along a journey that you hope you will never have to endure; it will take your breath away; and it will leave you wanting to read more books by Kate Furnivall. I loved it.
Hannah Symonds
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this book, which was brilliant as I have never read any of Kate Furnivall's books before. Even though I don't read many historical books I did however enjoy this one. It is a very descriptive story which brought the story more to life. I liked the characters and the way Isabella's relationship with Rosa develops is very intriguing. An enjoyable book and I will be reading more of Kate's books in the future.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this book it had me gripped from start to finish.
Italy, 1932 Mussolini's Italy is growing from strength to strength, but at what cost?
An interesting period of history that i have never touched on before. I immersed myself in this book . It had me intrigued gripped and i also loved the fact after the end of Kate Furnivall's story she then gives a true brief history of the what the story is based on.
Great Book.
Christina Patterson
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I wish I could give this book 3.5 stars, but since I can't, it will have to be just 3 stars. It was a nice story and I enjoyed the historical details given in the author's notes at the end of the book. It was a quick easy read, but I don't think I will think about theses characters anymore now that I have finished the book and to me that is one element that makes a book great.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 May 10, 2015 04:11PM  
  • For The Most Beautiful (Golden Apple Trilogy #1)
  • Love Notes For Freddie
  • The Beauty Chorus
  • The Last Dance
  • Kit
  • Out In The Army: My Life As A Gay Soldier
  • Summer at Oyster Bay
  • Home Is Where The Heart Is
  • The Paris Secret
  • Nurse! Nurse!: A Student Nurse's Story
  • Return to Robinson Island
  • Pleasure Island
  • Winter's Fairytale
  • Necessary Lies
  • White Feathers
  • The Girl Who Walked On Air
  • Addicted: A sexy, riotous summer bonkbuster
  • The Misadventures of a Playground Mother
Kate Furnivall was raised in Penarth, a small seaside town in Wales. Her mother, whose own childhood was spent in Russia, China and India, discovered at an early age that the world around us is so volatile, that the only things of true value are those inside your head and your heart. These values Kate explores in The Russian Concubine.

Kate went to London University where she studied English and fr
More about Kate Furnivall

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sackett's Land: The Sacketts (Sacketts, #1)
    $5.99 $2.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
  • The Sugar Queen
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Birth House
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Open City
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Out of Sorts
    $5.99 $0.99
  • The Hearts of Men: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Revolutionary Road
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Blessings
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Bachelor Girl
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Wednesday Sisters
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Allie and Bea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • After the War Is Over: A Novel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • What Belongs to You
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The History of Bees: A Novel
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Love Goddess' Cooking School
    $10.99 $2.99
  • All the Summer Girls
    $8.74 $1.99
  • The Girl From the Train
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bitter Winds (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
    $14.99 $1.99
  • The Grass Is Singing
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Misremembered Man (Tailorstown #1)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Odyssey
    $9.99 $1.99
  • And After the Fire
    $11.49 $1.99
  • The House of Impossible Beauties
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Varina
    $14.99 $3.99
  • The Living Reed: A Novel of Korea
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Flood Tide
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
    $10.24 $2.99
  • Unsaid
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Wake Up
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Post Office
    $11.24 $1.99
  • For Every Season: Book Three in the Amish Vines and Orchards Series
    $11.99 $2.99
  • One Night in Winter: A Novel (P.S.)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Those Who Save Us
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Tangled Vines (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Book 2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lake House
    $11.99 $2.99
  • No One Can Pronounce My Name
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Hate List
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Husbands and Other Sharp Objects
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Hidden
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Mystery Walk
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Galway Bay
    $11.99 $3.99
  • What Remains True
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Funny: A Middle School Story
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Tin Horse
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The King Must Die: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Red Skies (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Book 4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Ultimate Betrayal (A Reverend Curtis Black Novel Book 12)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Distant Echoes, Black Sands, Dangerous Depths, Midnight Sea, and Holy Night (Aloha Reef #1-4)
    $7.99 $3.99
  • Between Sundays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Worthy
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Queen of This Realm (Queens of England, #2)
    $11.99 $11.99