Friday, October 21, 2022

Book Blitz and Giveaway: In the Shadow of The Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan

Title: In The Shadow of The Apennines
Author: Kimberly Sullivan
Publication Date: October 21st 2022
Print Length: 362 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction

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An American divorcée. An Italian shepherdess.

Separated by a century, united by common dreams.

The sleepy little Abruzzo mountain town of Marsicano seems about as far as Samantha can flee from her failed marriage and disastrous university career. Eager for a fresh start, Samantha begins to set down roots in her Italian mountain hideaway.

At first, the mountain retreat appears idyllic, but an outsider’s clumsy attempts at breaking into the closed mountain community are quickly thwarted when the residents discover Samantha’s snarky blog ridiculing the town and its inhabitants.

Increasingly isolated in her mountain cottage, Samantha discovers the letters and diaries of Elena, a past tenant and a survivor of the 1915 Pescina earthquake. Despite the century that separates the two women, Samantha feels increasingly drawn into Elena’s life, and discovers startling parallels with her own.

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EXCERPT:
LOOKING BACK to when I bought this house, I realize that I was bamboozled by the weather. I should have known better. A fool and her money are easily parted.

It was the kind of day real estate agents would trade their eyeteeth for. The air was still crisp, but the sun shone warmly, laden with promise for the long, lovely days beckoning just around the corner. Snow still capped the mountaintops, yet the grass was green and lush.

We approached a front yard, and I could see the wildflowers sprouting around the edges, forming sporadic beds of color against the imposing grey stone of the house.

Lost in my reveries, I forgot all about the agent beside me. She smiled as she switched off the engine. “Here we are. The lovely little cottage I told you about.”

“A drafty little money pit, to be sure,” said Tom from the backseat, a wide smile carefully plastered on his face as he spoke the words.

I started to regret having invited him along. Worried about understanding everything in Italian, and even more terrified about not understanding the local dialect, I’d asked Tom to join me on my house hunting. Now I was ready to strangle him.

To be fair, Tom had been honest from the outset about his lack of enthusiasm for my plans to purchase property in Abruzzo. He made those views abundantly clear on each house tour. Since the agent didn’t understand a word of English, he masked his caustic comments with a ridiculous smile. The routine was becoming old.

With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps I should have heeded Tom’s warnings. Back then, however, I was in no mood to entertain his negative thoughts. I summarily ignored Tom’s comments, instead concentrating my full attention on the little cottage from the passenger window. I unlocked the door and stepped out, breathing in the invigorating mountain air, the earthy smell of soil and grass freed from winter hibernation under thick layers of snow.

Now I see it was all staged. The agent gave me just enough time to drink in the idyllic scene as she fumbled slowly for the keys in her purse. Timing was crucial. Standing before the old stone house, its cool grey exterior bathed in bright sunlight, I began to imagine it as my own. I envisioned my new life within those walls.

I imagined the garden I would plant, and lounging in a hammock tied between two ancient oaks. I fantasized about finally finishing that book I’d never completed. How could I not be inspired, with the majestic views of the mountains all around?

I wondered who’d lived in the cottage before. Had children played in its big yard? The cottage was set slightly apart from the town, but an easy walk in. That isolation could mean it was particularly cold in the winter. I made a note to examine the heating system and fireplaces within its thick walls.

The agent and Tom stood at the gate as I walked around the entire cottage. Fruit trees were scattered out back. A lovely little garden appeared to have been untended for quite some time. A large table would be perfect there, a spot for gathering with new friends or working.

The cottage was simple, but solid. Like all houses up high in the Apennine Mountains, the windows were small, the walls thick. I’d heard complaints that newer constructions were built cheaply, with thin walls, while these older homes were built to withstand the harsh mountain climate.

Returning to the front of the house where Tom and the agent waited for me, I paused. Scattered white dots punctuated the ankle-high grass. Narcissus flowers. Six delicate white petals surrounded yellow pistils rimmed in a narrow edge of bright pink; its arching stem lent elegance to the dainty bloom.

I knelt down to smell the sweet nectar of the flower, the perfect little wild flower—

the metamorphosis of the vain Narcissus, who was unable to part with his handsome reflection in the pond. I spared a thought for poor Echo, who pined away until only her voice remained, after she was unable to win Narcissus’ love.

Had I been much better when Michael’s indifference toward me was laid plainly at my feet? Hadn’t I pined away, hoping for his return? When I think back to the humiliation I endured in my useless attempts to win him back, I cringe with shame.

I looked with fresh eyes on the sun-drenched cottage so far removed from my former life, at the lawn scattered with the symbol of unrequited love. This must be a sign. Perhaps this was the place where I was meant to construct my new life.

I returned to the front yard walkway. The agent smiled at me, holding out the key that caught a glint of sunlight and appeared to burst into a glow of light. Another sign, surely?

“Signora Samantha,” she said, her tongue losing its battle with the difficult “th.” “Shall we look inside?”

The tour was irrelevant. My mind was made up.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kimberly Sullivan grew up in the suburbs of Boston and in Saratoga Springs, New York, although she now calls the Harlem neighborhood of New York City home when she’s back in the US. She studied political science and history at Cornell University and earned her MBA, with a concentration in strategy and marketing, from Bocconi University in Milan.

Afflicted with a severe case of Wanderlust, she worked in journalism and government in the US, Czech Republic and Austria, before settling down in Rome, where she works in international development, and writes fiction any chance she gets.

She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and The Historical Novel Society and has published several short stories and three novels: Three Coins, Dark Blue Waves, and In The Shadow of The Apennines.

After years spent living in Italy with her Italian husband and sons, she’s fluent in speaking with her hands, and she loves setting her stories in her beautiful, adoptive country.

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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $25 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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31 comments:

  1. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

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  2. Your book sounds fascinating! I am looking forward to reading more!

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  3. Great cover. I already am in love with her Italian mountain hideaway

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  4. it's sad that she felt she had to make fun of everyone. i hope she apologizes and makes friends in the end.

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  5. thanks this sounds like an interesting book

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  6. Happy Friday!

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  7. Sounds like a good book. I like the cover and excerpt.

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  8. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

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  9. I enjoyed reading this well done excerpt.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  10. The setting of the story is very inviting and the excerpt makes me want to read this novel.

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  11. I adore these kind of books. Thank you

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  12. where did you get the idea for this book

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  13. The excerpt is interesting. Thank you for sharing it.

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  14. The book sounds very intriguing. Great cover!

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  15. I enjoyed the excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway!

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  16. I would love to read this one and the cover is great.
    heather hgtempaddy

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  17. Do you have any advice for new writers?

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  18. I can't wait to read about Samantha's mountain retreat.

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  19. What beverage do you like to keep on hand while writing?

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  20. I love a good story that parallels lives of different characters. It gives insight into how people responded to the same stimuli and how current society contols the character's response

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