The best books for lovers of French and Italian history with romance and mystery

Who am I?

I was born in New Zealand and now live half the year in London and the other half on the border of The French and Italian Riviera. I am fascinated by the history of the buildings and the color of the European lifestyle. I love to write novels about the past and how that past relates to scenarios of present day. I am keen to tell the untold stories of WW2 that are based on fact. Then weave them with embellishment from my own imagination.     

I wrote...

The Silent Village

By Merryn Corcoran,

Book cover of The Silent Village

What is my book about?

Against the majestic, visual backdrop of the French and Italian Riviera, three generations of strong passionate women fight for the survival and future legacy of their families. 1944: Menton France, The German occupation of the French Riviera brings horrific consequences for Allessia’s family. Most of her family are murdered by German soldiers.

1955: Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Samuels arrives in Nice from London to work at her uncle’s hotel. Young and naïve, she falls for forbidden love which alters the course of her life forever. 2009: Sarah Anderson, in her fifties and recently widowed finally decides to track down her birth family. Her quest takes her to the French Riviera, where she finds new love and discovers the unbelievable story of her birth.

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The books I picked & why

The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern,

Book cover of The Night Circus

Why did I love this book?

I so enjoy both mystery and history with a touch of magic thrown in. The Night Circus captured and kept my attention as it drew me back in time to 1886. The scene is set in the Circus of Dreams which customers can only visit at night time. At the heart of the tale is the tangled relationship between two young magicians. Nothing is conventual, everything stimulates the imagination and transports you from reality to a compelling world of color, magic, showmanship. I was so sorry when the journey ended, it left me wanting more.  

By Erin Morgenstern,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Night Circus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Rediscover the million-copy bestselling fantasy read with a different kind of magic, now in a stunning anniversary edition to mark 10 years since it's paperback debut.

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Against the grey sky the towering tents are striped black and white. A sign hanging upon an iron gates reads:

Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

Full of breath-taking amazements and open only at night, Le Cirque des Reves seems to cast a spell over all who wander its circular paths. But behind the glittering acrobats, fortune-tellers…

Book cover of Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

Why did I love this book?

I have always adored the Chanel brand and have been intrigued by Coco Chanel’s childhood story and her rise to fame. Then to read the back story of her activities during World War 2 in Paris, I was gutted. The author depicts her as a full-on collaborator. All done in a bid to save her fortune, but at the expense of others. In this explosive narrative the author pieces together Chanel’s hidden years, her relationships with top-ranking Nazis, and her anti-Semitism.  

By Hal Vaughan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sleeping with the Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This explosive narrative reveals for the first time the shocking hidden years of Coco Chanel’s life: her collaboration with the Nazis in Paris, her affair with a master spy, and her work for the German military intelligence service and Himmler’s SS.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was the high priestess of couture who created the look of the modern woman. By the 1920s she had amassed a fortune and went on to create an empire. But her life from 1941 to 1954 has long been shrouded in rumor and mystery, never clarified by Chanel or her many biographers. Hal Vaughan exposes the…

Book cover of The Keeper of Lost Things

Why did I love this book?

I enjoyed the relationship with the two main characters, a man called Anthony who wants to atone for a promise he broke many years before. His time is running out and he must leave all his unfinished work to his assistant, Laura, who runs his house, offers him companionship and above all whom he trusts. This is a real page-turner, as several “actions” trigger a serendipitous string of encounters. I love this story. 

By Ruth Hogan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Keeper of Lost Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost…

Book cover of The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten

Why did I love this book?

My focus often wanes when I am reading a lot of historic facts, but this biography of the British titled Mountbatten couple is a riveting read. Whilst their public lives and public duties brought them accolades and respect, their private lives were totally outrageous, given the time and their close connections to the Queen of England. The book offers a wonderful descriptive prose and informative insight into life around the Royal family. Andrew Lownie is a thorough, brilliant researcher and this book definitely deserves its best-selling status. 

By Andrew Lownie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mountbattens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Richly entertaining... impressively well-researched' Daily Mail, Biography of the Year

The Sunday Times bestselling biography of the glamorous couple behind the modern royal family, the aunt and uncle of Prince Philip.

DICKIE MOUNTBATTEN: A major figure behind his nephew Philip's marriage to Queen Elizabeth II and instrumental in the Royal Family taking the Mountbatten name, he was Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia during World War II and the last Viceroy of India.

EDWINA MOUNTBATTEN: Once the richest woman in Britain and a playgirl who enjoyed numerous affairs, she emerged from World War II as a magnetic and talented…

The Crossing

By Mandy Hager,

Book cover of The Crossing

Why did I love this book?

The Crossing is the first book of a trilogy. Many Hager is billed as a young person's author but I just adored this story set in the south pacific on a tiny atoll. The scene is set with a young girl called Maryam who has been raised to believe that she and her blessed sisters are special. Soon they will cross the sea and serve a Lord and his apostles. But Maryam is wracked with doubt. As we read on, we can see she has good reason to be. She is being lined up as a human sacrifice. But she is brave and resourceful, she escapes with 3 companions and takes the reader on a magnificent journey into the void.  

By Mandy Hager,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in a stunning trilogy full of action, suspense and drama. bThe Crossing is the first book in a stunning trilogy that follows the fate of Maryam and her unlikely companions - Joseph, Ruth and Lazarus. This is fast, suspenseful drama underpinned by a powerful and moving story about love and loss. The people of Onewere, a small island in the Pacific, know that they are special - chosen to survive the deadly event that consumed the Earth. Now, from the rotting cruise ship Star of the Sea, the elite control the population - manipulating old texts to…

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