A light, literary mystery with lots of Italian atmosphere. I love all of the literary allusions that Goodman scatters throughout the novel - sonnets, poets, works of literature and art all find their way in. There is a brief appearance by an Anglican nun whose mother, fond of Virginia Woolf, names her Clarissa Dalloway; a reference to one of the theories Stephen Greenblatt mentions in his biography Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; a version of that despicable folk tale Patient Griselda; several direct references to Elizabeth Browning who is buried in Florence, and an indirect (maybe) reference to Robert Browning's My Last Duchess ( the story sounds too similar to be a coincidence) -- lots of fun literary tidbits.
I'd love to have seen what an author like Wilkie Collins could have done with the premise...it would have become a much denser novel, and I like dense. Goodman has written an enjoyable mystery that takes place in contemporary times, but is linked to another--perhaps more interesting--mystery involving the Italian poetess who may have been Shakespeare's "Dark Lady."
I keep wanting more than Goodman gives, but her novels are quick reads and entertaining.
Fiction. Mystery. 2007. 350 pages.