About the book:
Author: James Markert
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Southern Fiction, Renaissance Literary Fiction, and Magical Realism
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.
As always with a new author and a new premise, I wasn’t sure what I might have gotten myself into with Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel. With a blend of Greek gods, war-torn heroes, and elderly dementia, you’re given a ball of yarn tangled with interweaving stories. Just when I thought I had one thread straight, another snarl would erupt and send the whole thing into a tangle.
We are all made up of a sum of our parts, and our past is a major piece of the equation. When we lose our past, we lose a piece of ourselves. The Tuscany Hotel hopes to change that. Waters from the piazza fountain are said to hold magical properties, returning the lost memories to those who drink of the water. But as with all good things, there is a downside to this healing.
It is a bit slow at times. There is a gradual build-up to the climax and a whoosh of falling action, but the plot points are fairly solid.
The use of color, art, and Greek mythology kept me reading. I did not recognize several of the stories Vitto mentions, and that made me want to dust off my mythology books and return to that world I once knew so well.
Listed as: Southern Fiction, Renaissance Literary Fiction, and Magical Realism, you will not find a Christian fiction theme in the novel. Magdalena was a devout Catholic who believed the Greek gods were real. That is as far as the Christian element goes. As for the other genres, I’m not familiar with their specifics, but they seem appropriate. If you enjoy Greek mythology and elements of magic in the real world, you’ll enjoy this story.
(Possible spoilers ahead. Not intentionally, but a few story plots might be revealed. Read at your own risk.)
I had a few hang-ups, first with Vitto. He drinks the water and has a major release of post-war stress. He refuses to drink the water again and begins to fall back into the same battle fatigue. Then, one day, poof, it’s suddenly gone. Now, it might be a ‘mind over matter’ situation, but since that was never expressed, I kept waiting for him to have at least one more episode of recovery.
I requested a copy of this book from BookLook. I was not required to leave a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.