Friday, 20 March 2015

Book Review - Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix
Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix
Published: 20th March 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Two women, centuries apart, bound together by the secrets of one of the most iconic buildings ever created.

Pisa, 1999
Sam Campbell sits by her husband’s hospital bed. Far from home and her children, she must care for Michael who is recovering from a stroke. A man she loves deeply. A man who has been unfaithful to her.

Alone and in need of distraction, Sam decides to pick up Michael’s research into the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Immersing herself in the ancient city, she begins to piece together the mystery behind the creation of the tower, and discovers the woman who history forgot…

Pisa, 1171
Berta di Bernardo, the wife of a rich merchant, sits in her chamber, dressing for a dinner party. A gathering that will change the course of her life and a young master mason, Gerardo, forever.

A strong, intelligent woman, Berta’s passion for architecture also draws her closer to Gerardo. As she embarks on a love affair, her maid Aurelia also becomes spellbound by the same man. Yet for Berta, her heart’s desire is to see the Tower built, and her determination knows no bounds…


Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix is the story of how the Tower of Pisa came to be designed and the mystery surrounding who designed it. It is told from two viewpoints, one in 1999 and one when the tower was being designed around 1172. It is the perfect mix of old and new perspectives which although separate stories, together uncover some of the mystery of the tower and the passionate people behind it.

The story begins in 1999 with Sam, who has just learnt her husband has been unfaithful. She then gets a call to say he has had a stroke while in Italy researching the history of the tower. In turmoil she heads off to Italy to nurse her nurse her husband but soon finds herself caught in the mystery of the tower. When she meets Dario Visalberghi a man with local connections they begin to find some clues to the mysteries surrounding the tower.

The second viewpoint is mostly told from the perspective of Berta di Bernardo, the wife of wealthy merchant Lorenzo Calvo, who being the daughter of an architect has an interest in the buildings being designed in Pisa. She meets and falls in love with Gerado di Gerado a young carpenter and with her wealth and influence helps to further his career within Pisa. We also hear some of the story from Gerado and also Aurelia, Berta’s young maid.

I really enjoyed reading this book, the writing style made it easy to follow and it flowed well between the two viewpoints. I did prefer the historical aspect of the book more than the modern day setting. I think this was because there was more background story to the characters and their love triangle kept the story from purely being about the buildings.

The thing I loved most about this book was the love of Pisa that came through from all the characters, it seems to capture all their hearts, Berta’s most particularly. The passion for the city was in all the Pisans, wanting to it be seen as the most beautiful city in Italy was very inspiring and has made me want to visit this city even more.

Even though the backdrop to this book is the mystery of the tower this is essentially a tale of love in its many forms. Gerado is intoxicated by Berta and her beauty and wealth but also has a simpler, deeper long lasting love for Aurelia, but which woman will he choose to be with? Sam has to deal with infidelity in love and decide if she can forgive her husband or whether she should be swayed by the handsome Dario.

I’m surprised to learn that this is Debbie Rix’s first novel as I found it well written, very absorbing with realistic characters and the research which she must has done to have such detail in the book is outstanding. I cannot wait to see what she writes next as I’m sure it will be as brilliant as Secrets of the Tower. I give this book 5/5.

I would like to thank Bookouture for the advanced copy of this book.

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