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Journey into the past with The Rome Affair

This is my second Karen Swan novel. Last year, I read The Paris Secret, where she put passion into the Parisian landscape with √©lan. The timing was impeccable. Recently, having ventured on my own Parisian adventure, the beautiful prose of The Paris Secret brought me right back into those perfectly unforgettable moments. 

So, when PGC Books sent me an advanced copy of a new novel by the international best-selling author, I was alight with excitement. This time, it seemed that Karen Swan was ready to take me through the streets and piazzas of one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

The Rome Affair is charming. The glamorous capital of Italy is brought to startling's exactly what I'd expect from Karen Swan. She does have a way of transporting you into a city, and embed you right into its culture and complexities. You are there. The streets seem familiar and the characters relatable (well, some at least). The countess in this novel reminds me of one of the elaborate characters in a Kevin Kwan novel. The life she's led, well she really is "the luckiest girl in the world". 

There's some sarcasm there. Because money doesn't really buy you happiness. Rich people don't necessarily have the fairytale life that the paparazzi paint in pictures and stories. 

The Rome Affair's protaganist is Francesca Hackett (Cesca), a blogger who has a way of appreciating the city from an unusual angle. While most people would say that the Colesseum, or the Forum, or the Pantheon, is one of their favourite things about the city, Cesca would say it's the amber lights and the sparrows. She loves Rome. It's the reason she came here, and also works as a part time travel guide, taking visitors on walking tours of Rome. With her blog, The Rome Affair, gaining record followership levels, she's certain that fame is just around the corner. But, for the time being she's just getting by, struggling to pay her rent, and absolutely thrilled to be living in the city that she's always wanted to live in. 

As a fledgling but promising blogger yet to find fame, Cesca's accommodations are under the radar, hidden in the warren of meandering streets between Piazza Navona and Campo de' Flori, the apartment in Centro Storico may not have a fashionable address like those in the trendy Trastevere places - where her friends, and designers, artists, and hipsters hung out at late-night bars - yet, she loved it none the less given its central location. 

Like Karen Swan's novels, the story engages you right from the get go and quickly escalates into epic proportions, marrying the worlds of high society with the simple charm of city life. One day, Cesca's just getting by, and the next she finds herself having a enticing proposition from Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola, or Elena Damiani for brevity. The Viscontessa lives in a palazzo right in the heart of the city, and wants to hire Cesca to write her biography. 

So much has been written of Elena over the course of her life, a lot of it outrageous, but she'd like the world to hear her version of the story. A deal is struck, and the two women start to spend more time together, and the dark secrets of Elena's life unfurl. Is this a Faustian pact? You'll have to decide.

Karen Swan's books are a page-turner. She began her career in fashion journalism before giving it up to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. Her books include, Christmas at Tiffany's, Summer at Tiffany's, The Perfect Present, Christmas under the Stars. Christmas in the Snow, Christmas on Primrose Hill and The Paris Secret. She lives in Sussex, England.

In The Rome Affair she put passion into the Italian landscape. The blogger and writer in me loved the Cesca's blog was what inspired the title of the book. 

Books & Wine Pairing: Pair Karan Swan's A Rome Affair with an Italian Wine, Ripassa, by Zenato Winery ------------------------------------------------

The Rome Affair is published by Pan Books and distributed in Canada by PGC Books and Raincoast Books

Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog:, as well as a lifestyle blog: T: @SukasaStyle)