In The Shadow of The Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan releases today in the Adult, Contemporary, Historical, Women’s Fiction genre.
An American divorcée. An Italian shepherdess.
Separated by a century, united by common dreams.
The sleepy little Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano seems about as far as Samantha can flee from her failed marriage and disastrous university career. Eager for a fresh start, Samantha begins to set down roots in her Italian mountain hideaway.
At first, the mountain retreat appears idyllic, but an outsider’s clumsy attempts at breaking into the closed mountain community are quickly thwarted when the residents discover Samantha’s snarky blog ridiculing the town and its inhabitants.
Increasingly isolated in her mountain cottage, Samantha discovers the letters and diaries of Elena, a past tenant and a survivor of the 1915 Pescina earthquake. Despite the century that separates the two women, Samantha feels increasingly drawn into Elena’s life, and discovers startling parallels with her own.
I wondered who’d lived in the cottage before. Had children played in its big yard? The cottage was set slightly apart from the town, but an easy walk in. That isolation could mean it was particularly cold in the winter. I made a note to examine the heating system and fireplaces within its thick walls.
The agent and Tom stood at the gate as I walked around the entire cottage. Fruit trees were scattered out back. A lovely little garden appeared to have been untended for quite some time. A large table would be perfect there, a spot for gathering with new friends or working.
The cottage was simple, but solid. Like all houses up high in the Apennine Mountains, the windows were small, the walls thick. I’d heard complaints that newer constructions were built cheaply, with thin walls, while these older homes were built to withstand the harsh mountain climate.
Returning to the front of the house where Tom and the agent waited for me, I paused. Scattered white dots punctuated the ankle-high grass. Narcissus flowers. Six delicate white petals surrounded yellow pistils rimmed in a narrow edge of bright pink; its arching stem lent elegance to the dainty bloom.
I knelt down to smell the sweet nectar of the flower, the perfect little wild flower—
the metamorphosis of the vain Narcissus, who was unable to part with his handsome reflection in the pond. I spared a thought for poor Echo, who pined away until only her voice remained, after she was unable to win Narcissus’ love.
Had I been much better when Michael’s indifference toward me was laid plainly at my feet? Hadn’t I pined away, hoping for his return? When I think back to the humiliation I endured in my useless attempts to win him back, I cringe with shame.
I looked with fresh eyes on the sun-drenched cottage so far removed from my former life, at the lawn scattered with the symbol of unrequited love. This must be a sign. Perhaps this was the place where I was meant to construct my new life.
I returned to the front yard walkway. The agent smiled at me, holding out the key that caught a glint of sunlight and appeared to burst into a glow of light. Another sign, surely?
“Signora Samantha,” she said, her tongue losing its battle with the difficult “th.” “Shall we look inside?”
The tour was irrelevant. My mind was made up.
Kimberly grew up in the suburbs of Boston and in Saratoga Springs, New York, although she now calls the Harlem neighborhood of New York City home when she’s back in the US. She studied political science and history at Cornell University and earned her MBA, with a concentration in strategy and marketing, from Bocconi University in Milan.
Afflicted with a severe case of Wanderlust, she worked in journalism and government in the US, Czech Republic and Austria, before settling down in Rome, where she works in international development, and writes fiction any chance she gets.
She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and The Historical Novel Society and has published several short stories and three novels: Three Coins, Dark Blue Waves and In The Shadow of The Apennines.
After years spent living in Italy with her Italian husband and sons, she’s fluent in speaking with her hands, and she loves setting her stories in her beautiful, adoptive country.
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
- $25 Amazon gift card