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The Italian Wife

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,462 ratings  ·  196 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)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,462 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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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 its 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, n, net-galley, kindle
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
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This story started off so well ... the first section of the book was gripping and exciting. Unfortunately not much happened in the middle and then towards the end the pace picked up again (with a good twist i might add, that i did not see coming). Not one of Furnivall's better novels (in my opinion) but still - i enjoyed reading about Italy and there was a nice love story tied into the plot. Though this book didn't keep me turning pages until after midnight, it was pleasant enough.
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
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bought this on kobo. Good read. Keeps you riveted. It's the kind of book you just have to find out what happens next.

Essentially a widowed architects husbands past comes to light after he's shot and killed. Years after his death after the widow is left with a child and a tangle of relationships develop with loads of intrigue.

Nice ending yet not totally unexpected and the bad boy gets his comeuppance.
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
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
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.
Lorna Dykstra
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
This book has a tight plot with many twists and turns but the author manages to give nothing away until the very end. The characters felt very human, flawed and with many secrets. I never lost interest in the story or found any parts boring. The pace was pretty fast and, yes, the protagonists had quite a few very lucky escapes but this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the narrative.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This was not one of her best in my opinion. Seemed overly complicated and a bit long.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the story.This is my first time reading a novel by Kate Furnivall. She is a great author!
Margaret Curry
I really enjoyed the writing style, and the descriptions of characters, places, and things were excellent. I was a tad disappointed in the ending, but otherwise this novel was really good.
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
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
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
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 May 10, 2015 04:11PM  

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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

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