disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
Published through Corvus in June this year, Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan is a beautifully written novel describing the lives of two very different women living in Rome, one in the present day, and one in the 1970s.
Newly married Lottie has moved to Rome to live with her husband Tom Archer. She’s trained as an archivist and he works at the British Council. Once their honeymoon is over Lottie is meant to start work at the city’s Archivio Espatriati, but she’s soon to learn that everything in Italy works a little differently than it does back in England. The chief archivist she is replacing has meant to be retiring but he’s not quite ready to leave and there is some issue with tax returns that means she’s in limbo. Working, but not in quite the securely employed way she’d expected, to start with at least. But whilst being advised it would only take a couple of weeks to resolve the issues, she is given free rein of the archives to explore, and so she stumbles across the story of an English woman murdered in Rome. Thirty-eight-year-old Nina Lawrence died in 1978 in mysterious circumstances with no known kin, and what might be a valuable painting within her unclaimed possessions.
And so begins the story of Two Women in Rome, as Lottie learns more about herself and her relationship with Tom, whilst at the same time becoming totally absorbed in uncovering the truth behind the death of Nina. It’s so beautifully written and you quickly become enthralled by the lives of these two women.
It soon becomes clear that Nina was no ordinary garden restorer, and that she had secretly fallen in love with a young novice priest during her time in Rome. Lottie must learn more about the politics of post-war Italy, as well as the power held by the Church as she tries to piece together Nina’s last months. Whilst playing detective, we also see Lottie discover more about her own life as she tries to settle into married life with a man she isn’t completely sure of.
There are so many layers to Two Women in Rome as the story of each woman is told. I thoroughly enjoyed the discovery and was eager to reach the end of the novel to uncover their truths. I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link below (I do earn from qualifying purchases) in case you fancy reading this book for yourself.