Portrait of Rosanna
Paolo's parting gift of her portrait is bitter-sweet compensation when he lets Rosanna down, compelling her to leave Rome and return home to the UK. Coerced into a loveless marriage and a humdrum existence in an English suburb, she steadfastly holds on to the memories of her romance with the portrait's Italian creator until the painting disappears. More
A coming-of-age novel.
Centred around the portrait, the story begins in Rome during Autumn 1966. Seventeen-year-old Rosanna is hopelessly in love with aspiring artist, Paolo Ciotti. Together with their friends, Richard and Gabriella, she is whirled into Rome's exciting Bohemian circle until a call from home sends her rushing back to her dying father's bedside in London.
Against her mother's wishes, Rosanna returns to Italy to learn that Paolo is trapped by floods in Florence where the River Arno has burst its banks. Her joy is unbounded when he escapes unharmed and, for a few months, while he finishes his portrait of her, the couple are ecstatically happy. The big day arrives for the portrait's unveiling and Rosanna is stunned when Richard unwittingly reveals his love for her, a revelation which stokes his girlfriend's jealousy.
Later, the four friends take a holiday in Capri, during which Gabriella's jealousy spills over. Tragedy follows. Sobered by this turn of events, Rosanna and Paolo return to Rome only to be confronted with more disturbing news. Rosanna is pregnant and, when Paolo urges her to 'get rid' of the baby, she is faced with a terrible dilemma.
Disillusioned, she returns home to England and soon finds herself locked in a loveless marriage with Drew Galloway, a power-hungry control freak with a violent temper. Drew kills any remaining feelings she has for him when he secretly gives away her most treasured possession: Paolo's painting. She longs to leave her husband but, as the mother of two young sons, there seems no way out of the situation. Then, a chance encounter with a London art dealer sparks hope, and she embarks on a quest to discover the portrait's whereabouts.
At the end of the day she is faced with another life-changing decision. Happiness means confronting the past and only Rosanna, herself, knows whether she has the strength, or indeed, the inclination, to do just that.