A Postcard from Italy by Alex Brown – A Book Review

44143067_1929279200494492_1828541549852491776_nGrace Quinn has lost herself.

After she finds her fiancée sleeping with another woman in their bed two, her world comes apart. She has become the caregiver for her controlling and demanding mother, Cora. Bedridden, Cora rules the house with an iron fist. Lost within herself, Grace has also become a shut in and is pretty much agoraphobic, afraid to face the world.

Thankfully, the one place she can go, when she is able to escape is her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company. There, she works for Betty and Larry helping them with the business and going through storage lockers that were late on payments. Nice and simple; safe. Betty always had tea and a big piece of babka cake waiting for Grace when she showed up to work.

Grace’s life changes when Larry has her begin to go through Unit 28. It’s one of the things that Grace most loves to do, digging into the past and cataloguing for sale or disposal. Grace loves discovering the items that people left in storage.  Grace loves to see what she will discover. She thinks nothing of it until she opens Unit 28; it’s like she’s stepped into a dream.

Inside Unit 28 was an Aladdin’s cave full of ornate and vintage items: jewelry, paintings, clothing, all of it pristine and well kept. In fact, the unit looks as if she has stepped into a bedroom from the 1950’s. Taking a look at the paper on her clipboard, she learns that the unit used to belong to Constance de Donato.

Within Unite 28, Grace finds Constance’s old diaries and starts to read about her. She asks Larry if she can take photos of the diaries so that she can read them at home. Constance is a kindred spirit to Grace. They both have controlling mothers; they have both lost their loves and lost themselves.

However, what Grace doesn’t know is that all stories have an ending and hers is just beginning and that sometimes when we are most lost, we find exactly what we are looking for…

I loved absolutely everything about this novel. Alex Brown never fails to deliver books that not only evoke emotion. Grace and the people that fill the pages of A Postcard from Italy feel like real people by the end of the novel. During most of it, I wanted to reach into the pages and give Grace a big hug.

I also love how Alex Brown continues to go places that others don’t in women’s fiction. She pushes the envelope and always leaves me spellbound by the emotions and subjects that she puts into her novels. A Postcard from Italy deals with agoraphobia and taking care of an elderly parent, two subjects that I’ve never come across in women’s literature. She always manages to write stories with subjects that go beyond the genre and the books become a genre all of her own.

Brown’s writing is always superb, but in A Postcard from Italy, she has gone above and beyond. When the book switches from the small and lovely town of Tindledale to Italy and the sights that it holds, it was like I was there. She describes the sights and sounds, smells and tastes of Italy so well that I feel like I’ve been on holiday, the book is just that good.

A Postcard from Italy had me all wrapped up in a mystery, in human drama and in the truths of the heart with enough babka cake to keep anyone happy. Wonderful and captivating, this is her best novel yet. I can’t wait to see where Alex Brown takes us next!

I’m firmly convinced that Alex Brown doesn’t merely write; she creates magic.

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