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A hypnotizing coming-of-age novel set in 1950s Italy that stares into the heart of longing and at the friendships that have the power to save and destroy us.
"I was utterly captivated, from first page to last." --Anton DiSclafani, New York Times bestselling author of The After Party
Isabella is beautiful, inscrutable, and popular. Her best friend, Bridget, keeps quietly to the fringes of their Connecticut Catholic school, watching everything and everyone, but most especially Isabella.
In 1957, when the girls graduate, they land coveted spots at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Pentila in northern Italy, a prestigious art history school on the grounds of a silent convent. There, free of her claustrophobic home and the town that will always see her and her Egyptian mother as outsiders, Bridget discovers she can reinvent herself as anyone she desires... perhaps even someone Isabella could desire in return.
But as that glittering year goes on, Bridget begins to suspect Isabella is keeping a secret from her, one that will change the course of their lives forever.
About the Author
Anbara Salam is half-Palestinian and half-Scottish and grew up in London. She has a PhD in Theology and is now living and working in Oxford.
“Salam writes beautifully about the beguiling nature of desire, and what we're willing to throw into its fire in order to get what it is we believe we want. ... I was utterly captivated, from first page to last.”—Anton DiSclafani, New York Times bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls and The After Party
“A moving tale about identity, love, and loss. Anbara Salam unspools a compelling narrative about a young woman struggling to find herself amid family secrets and her own hidden truths. It’s the kind of emotionally rich story that stays with you.” —Anissa Gray, author of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
“Recalling Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal meets Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides meets Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley, this unputdownable and lush novel had me entranced and totally absorbed in the woozy, covertly sensual world of a 1950s Italian convent. Anbara Salam has a gimlet-eyed, ferocious talent for capturing the obsessive urgency and convolutions of power and desire in adolescent experience.”—Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
“The tender, exquisite prose brilliantly captures the feelings and fault lines in the girls’ friendship. This is a discerning look at secret infatuation and racial prejudice.”—Publishers Weekly