For years, guests of the Tuscany Hotel could leave their pasts behind and live among fellow artists. Now guests of a different sort fill the rooms, searching for their memories—no matter the cost.
Run by renowned sculptor Robert Gandy and his wife and muse, Magdalena, the Tuscany Hotel hosted guests of a certain kind—artists, actors, scientists, and engineers who left their worries behind so that they could create their latest masterpieces. Surrounded by lore, the hotel was rumored to free the mind and inspire artists’ gifts. But tragic circumstances force Robert and his family to move.
After thirteen months at war, Vittorio Gandy is haunted by memories, and his former life is unrecognizable. Once a gifted painter, now he can’t bear the vivid, bleeding colors on a canvas. His young son doesn’t remember him, and his wife, Valerie, is scared of him. But the most disconcerting change is in Vitto’s father, Robert Gandy, who has fallen from being a larger-than-life sculptor to a man whose mind has been taken by Alzheimer’s.
When Robert steals away in the night, Valerie, Vitto, and his new acquaintance and fellow veteran John go to the only place Robert might remember—the now-abandoned Tuscany Hotel. When they find him there, Robert’s mind is sound and his memories are intact.
Before long, word gets out that drinking from the fountain at the hotel can restore the memories of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The rooms once again fill up with guests—not artists this time, but people seeking control over their memories and lives. Vitto desperately wants to clear his own mind, but as he learns more about his mother’s life and her tragic death, he begins to wonder whether drinking the water comes at a price.
A story of father and son, memories lost and found, artists and their muses, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel explores the mysteries of the mind, the truth behind lore, and the miracle of inspiration.
There’s no denying that I’m a fan of James Markert’s writing. I’ve read his last three novels and I’ve given each of them a five star rating.
I can’t deny that I’m a James Markert fan. I’ve read his three of his previous novels and loved each one. My one fear of each new release is that it won’t be as good as the one before. Because there has to be a dud somewhere, right? I mean, no one can consistently produce excellent novels, surely?
Well, I guess I’ll continue waiting for disappointment. Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is amazing, to put it mildly. Markert takes a World War II veteran with PTSD who can’t forget what he saw in Europe and puts him up against others who would love to have their memories back. Is his photographic memory a blessing or a curse? Vitto believes it to be the latter, especially since his father never seemed to appreciate the way his son could copy famous Renaissance masterpieces from memory.
Questions surround Vitto’s parents, especially about his deceased mother, Magdalena. Who was she? Where did she come from? How did she end up at an orphanage in Florence, Italy? How did Robert meet her? What is their connection to the hotel’s long term bar-tender? And just what is the fascination both Robert and Magdalena have with Greek mythology? While most of the action takes place in the 1940s, readers are also treated to flashback chapters about Magdalena’s past. Gradually, each parent’s story is revealed and the truth becomes apparent, even as you wonder how it could possibly be.
James Markert so vividly describes the wonder of the Tuscany Hotel that I could almost picture it. It’s a novel I’d love to see made into a movie. Besides the setting, the question of how to handle parents with dementia is a key aspect of the narrative. How often have we wished that their suffering would end, or that they could be how they once were? Which is the more important: quality of life or quantity?
There is so much more I want to say about this novel, but much of it would contain spoilers. And, trust me; you don’t want to be spoiled. There are, however, three lines that stood out to me: “Are we living or dying?”; “In need of a son. To give myself to”; and, “They live – right down to their last day.” Read Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel and you’ll be as moved as I have found myself, not only when I finished it but also as I re-read parts of it today for this review.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy of Might at the Tuscany Hotel.
Do you plan to read Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a division of HarperCollins Christian)
Publication Date: 09 April 2019
Page Count: 368