Historical Drama Set on The Italian Riviera in the Roaring Twenties

by J. P. O’Connell

Soon to be a PBS Drama!

In an attempt to start fresh after The Great War, Bella Ainsworth and her family move  from Britain to the Italian Riviera in 1926 to open a luxury hotel called Hotel Portofino. Bella and he husband, Cecil, have a troubled marriage, their son, Lucian, returned from the war injured and their daughter, Alice, lost her husband in the war and is very bitter. Bella hopes that this fresh start will be what they need to heal them.

The guests begin arriving but not everything is going smoothly. Mussolini’s Black Shirts are a threatening presence in the town, money and other things go missing from the hotel and family tensions escalate. Lucian is a talented painter but his father wants him to find a better occupation, the young woman that arrives as a possible future wealthy wife to Lucian is beautiful but he is attracted to someone else. Cecil continues his drunken ways and runs up gambling debts forcing Bella to rely on her father to keep the hotel afloat.

When I read a review of Hotel Portofino, I though that I would love it. What’s not to love about a story set in the 1920s’ on the French Riviera? Well, I liked this book but didn’t love it. It moved slowly and ended abruptly. Perhaps there will be a sequel? The hotel and setting on the Italian Riviera are lovely and the cover of the book is appealing but there were too many characters and not much of a plot.

Hotel Portofino has already been made into a PBS movie to be shown in 2022. I think it will make a great movie because there is something for everyone: domestic abuse, family strife, blackmail, homosexuality, political intrigue, PTSD, a beautiful hotel on the Italian Riviera and love triangles. I just wish that I liked the book more than I did.

Thanks to Blackstone Publishing and Edelweiss+ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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