I’m kicking off the year with a beautiful love story set in one of my favourite parts of the world and written by one of the dearest people in my life – so this book was not a hard sell for me!! I’m thrilled to introduce you all to beautiful debut author Vanessa Carnevale and her stunning novel THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE. When this book was released we had a couple of days where it was delayed here in Perth and I busted my way into a book shop begging for them to unload it for me just so I could get my hands on it – AFTER I had already read it as an advance copy! I have also bought copies for several friends because I think it’s a gorgeous holiday read – love, scenery, art – perfection. I hope you enjoy my review of THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE and my interview with the lovely Vanessa.
Full of heart and hope, The Florentine Bridge is a tear-jerking read for those looking for an Under the Tuscan Sun-inspired setting.
Nineteen-year-old aspiring artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. Her battle with the illness has taken its toll on her, leaving her severely depressed and tormented by an overwhelming fear of dying. Inspired to make a fresh start, Mia decides to move to Tuscany to pursue a simpler life where she can, with any luck, find the motivation she needs to paint again.
What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic who sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited, and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, a tragedy dredges up all the anxieties she’s worked so hard to overcome and threatens her budding relationship with Luca.
A beautiful, deeply emotional read that will leave you thinking about the characters long after you've finished reading. Vanessa Carnevale's debut is a stunning story of love, fear, loss and hope set against a backdrop of Tuscany that's so vividly brought to life, you can almost taste the grapes. The love story is tender and romantic and a slow burn that pulls you in deeper and deeper as the book goes on - I love how loveable Mia and Luca are in their openness and vulnerability with each other and with the reader too. Mia's internal narrative is incredibly raw and at times heartbreaking but I think this is what makes her such a memorable character. I felt as if I knew her like a dear friend. As far as a classic romance goes, the kind that makes you swoon and cry and hold your breath - it doesn't get much better than The Florentine Bridge. Absolutely beautiful! Under the Tuscan Sun but so much better.
In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home. The Florentine Bridge is her first novel.
You can connect with Vanessa at www.vanessacarnevale.com and she's also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest - social media queen this chick is!
An interview with Vanessa Carnevale:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
The Florentine Bridge is a love story set in Tuscany about a young Australian artist by the name of Mia, who is in remission from cancer and is trying to find her motivation to paint again after going through her treatment. Despite the all clear, her perspective on life has changed and this has also influenced her art and motivation to paint. So when an opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself she takes it. It’s an emotional story filled with drama but balanced with lots of light as we follow Mia’s journey back to herself as she falls in love with the heroine of the story, Luca, and life throws them some pretty big challenges to overcome both as a couple and individuals.
Which Hollywood stars would you like to see play the lead roles in the movie version of your book?
Ooh, fun question! I think Lucy Hale would be great as Mia, and as for Luca, I’ve spent time trawling the internet but have no idea! Suggestions? I think Emma Stone would make a perfect Stella, our own Cate Blanchett as Clara, Roberto Benigni as Silvio. As for Mia’s parents, maybe we could have Sandra Bullock as Julie, and Stanley Tucci as Adam.
How long did it take you to write your book?
I wrote the first draft over a period of six weeks and once I started writing it I just couldn’t stop. Naively, I expected this would be the case with the first draft of my second manuscript. Which it wasn’t, and of course that was a big let down! Since writing The Florentine Bridge, I’ve learnt that every book is different.
How did you come up with the title? Did you have alternative titles?
The title came naturally to me after Luca’s first reference to the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, but it’s also symbolic in a number of different ways to the story (sorry, no spoilers!) Often publishers will change the title of a novel before it’s published but in this case my publisher loved the title so we got to keep it and I think it fits perfectly.
How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
I can’t take any credit for the cover! I owe bucket loads of thanks to my publisher, the team at Harlequin and of course the cover designer who did an incredible job of nailing this. I submitted a cover brief and in that said that I thought it would be nice to have an image of a woman on the cover, and I’d like it to represent the fact she is an artist in some way, and it might be nice to have the bridge on there as well. I also sent them a link to the Pinterest board which I used for inspiration while writing the book. (The woman on the cover looks very similar to the ‘Mia’ I had pinned on my board but I don’t know if that’s coincidental or not). Voila! See what she came up with? I couldn’t have imagined anything more beautiful. It so perfectly represents the tone of the book – it’s warm, intriguing, sensual, and beautiful.
Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Just one?! I have a few and I love them for different reasons. One is the flashback with Mia and her parents because I worked so hard on it and it moved me so emotionally. I loved writing the scene where Mia finds a true connection to herself and her art in the Uffizi gallery where she admires the Botticelli painting.
What are you working on at the moment?
I handed in the manuscript of my second book just before Christmas so at some point expect to be editing that. This book, another love story, is set on a flower farm, and without giving too much away, looks at the role memories play in our lives by exploring the question, “if we had our time over, would we live the same life twice?’
I’m also about to face the blank page, as I’m due to start working on my third book very soon. Exciting times!
What was your road to publication like?
I have to admit, I’ve been super lucky with how things unfolded for The Florentine Bridge. This was the first novel I wrote for an adult audience and it was the one that found me an agent and a publisher. After writing the first draft I spent some time polishing it before querying agents. I signed with my agent around five or six months after querying, after which, we took the book through rounds of revision before going on submission. I then had a “Pinch me! Is this real?!” moment when we received more than one offer for the book. I went on to sign a contract from Harlequin MIRA for two books, and we’ve since gone on to sell foreign rights to Slovenia! It’s been a pretty great ride!
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
Facebook! I’m over at www.facebook.com/vanessacarnevalewriter but I also love Instagram www.instagram.com/vanessacarnevale and have a website and newsletter that goes out once a month. Come say hi!
What do you think makes a really good story?
For me, good stories are ones that leave a lasting impression on me as a reader. I want a book to make me keep thinking about the characters and the world the author has created long after I turn the last page. That usually happens for me when an author creates compelling characters that I care about, and balances that out with plenty of emotion. If a book can make me feel something, I’m usually sold. Beautiful writing also helps. I love books that make me dog ear pages because the writing is sogood. I’m always looking for opportunities to dog ear my books. They’re the best ones!