Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 May 2019

Member Reviews

MIDNIGHT AT THE TUSCANY HOTEL   by James Markert

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a place to take either yourself or your loved one to be cured ? One that had a magical potion that could reverse the ravages of time ? Can you allow yourself to believe for just a little while ? Well when you go to stay at the Tuscany Hotel that is exactly what what you will find, a magical place. Mr. Market has created a hotel in California where that is exactly what will happen. Let me tell you about it.

The story opens in California at the end of World War 2. Vito returns to his family a broken, damaged man. He returns to a son who doesn’t know him and a father deep in dementia. His wife has been holding it all together and is ready for some help. That unfortunately will have to wait. Vito does seek medical help but it is cut short because his father has left his home to return to the hotel. Here is where the magic happens. Robert, his father, has decided to reopen the hotel and the fountain that goes with it. You learn how Vito’s parents meet in the 19th century and along the way you get to revisit the Ancient Greek  gods. 

The story is multi layered and is very well told. The story of the fountain is the heart of the book. It is the water from the fountain which is able to reverse the ravages of time. Dementia patients return to the way they used to be. Vito doesn’t really believe it, but he goes along with it. The writing tight and the story moves along in a way that made a believer out of me ! I think that this book goes a long way to making the reader believe that some things are possible that have no rational basis and there is nothing wrong with that. Many of the discoveries that have made life wonderful came about because someone believed in a little magic!

The story ends in the present day. In the story, no one believes  that there was any magic ever at the hotel. The fountain is long gone as are all of those who could attest to the magic ! The  book lends itself to book clubs there is so much to discuss ! I hope that everyone who reads this book will enjoy it as much as a I did.
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"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and I apologize that I am now going to say that I did not finish it. I did enjoy the mythology and the idea that there is a place where people with brain disorders could go to have their memories restored. Imagine the joy if modern medicine could find a way to make that happen! But the main character suffers from PTSD brought on by his war experiences, and although I know this is very real, and I sympathize with people who are dealing with this in their lives, I do not want to spend my time reading about it. I was not sufficiently engaged in the the rest of the story to want to continue to see how things work out. However, I am sure that there are people who will enjoy this book.
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I have read all James Markert's stories and I love some and not so much others. But he is always interesting. Quirky and sometimes odd story telling, he does, even a bit strange at times, but he is always entertaining. I think his first is still my favorite.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Net Galley. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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If you like Greek Mythology then this book is definitely for you.  I throughly enjoyed!! Well written and the characters were awesome. 
Actually makes you want to visit the Tuscany Hotel.  Great read!!! Thank you Netgalley for this wonderful arc.
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It took me a bit to get into the story,to feel connected to the characters. I am glad I stuck with it as the second half was enjoyable. A unique story about memories and remembering as well  I enjoyed the mythology as well as the two timelines.
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I was extremely entertained by Midnight At The Tuscany Hotel.  It combines, historical fiction, Greek mythology, and fantasy in a beautiful character driven novel.  I was captured early by the complex characters. I must admit to enjoying  the snippets of Greek mythology, but at first not realizing their place in the overall story.  I really appreciated the way James Market pulled everything together.  It definitely kept the promise of the premise.  There are some pacing issues, it seems a little uneven at times, but that didnt break the story down.  I can see this novel as a book discussion selection, as there is lots to discuss and debate. 
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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This book is about memory, art, mythology, loss, beauty, and grief.  

Vitto returns from the Second World War haunted by his memories.  His father Robert, meanwhile, has developed Alzheimer's and can't remember much of anything.  

The Tuscany Hotel was the place to be before the war.  It is also where Vitto grew up and the place Robert built for his wife and muse.  

The story meanders between the present, and the past and is told from multiple points of view.  It is in many ways a re-telling of greek mythology.  

I liked it very much.
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This was a book that I wasn't really thinking about, until the time for me to start reading it was upon me.

For me, there was nothing that really stood out about it---not the cover, or the title, or even the description. I was beginning to wonder why I agreed to review it, but with a sigh, I had committed to reading it and thus I did.

As soon as I started reading it, I began to let me misconceptions and preconceived notions fall away, as this book indeed had a lot to recommend itself and I think that there will be a number of people that will love this book! 

Summary

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 (summary from Goodreads).

Review

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the material. I think the premise and subject matter of the story is something most readers can easily relate to and that is the idea of the past. Is it something we should just leave well enough alone?

Right away I felt connected to the plot and the general idea for the book. I think that most readers will find that this notion of the past and reconciling with it, is something we all struggle with so readers will feel an instant connection I think.

The story is well written, it has a very lyrical quality to it which sets it aside and leave readers feeling like they read something elegant and relatable. For me though, I don't know that I could fully appreciate this book. I personally am just not a huge fan of mythology. I mean, I want to be into it, but it's just not my thing. In this book there was a lot go Greek mythology and for me, I just couldn't appreciate it in the way that I think other readers could.

I know that a lot of people really loved this book, and I think there are certainly a lot of positives and things to enjoy, but for me I started to lose interest toward the end. I don't know if it was the mythology references or not, but for me personally this one just landed as ok. I ended it with a 3 star review which for me falls into the ok category. I think that others might love this one, as it received a ton of high marks on Goodreads, but for me it as just ok.
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Favorite Quotes:

He’d been staring at her in awe but was afraid to say it—in awe because of her pretty face he wanted to touch but somehow couldn’t or shouldn’t, in awe because of those blue eyes that still looked as bright as liquid paint, in awe because of who she still was, that comforting soul, even as a child, who had always seemed to be a bandage for things in need of bandaging.

Time can be a tenuous dancing partner, Mr. Gandy. And memory the devil. Sometimes the wounds we can’t see leave the worst scars, unless they’re tended to.

Her demeanor immediately relaxed them, her smile a deep breath, her gait showing a grace no Tinseltown set could ever muster.

Juba was a vault stuck inside of a vault and he’d swallowed the key long ago.


My Review:

This was only my second time reading James Markert’s masterful storytelling and I was once again wonderstruck by his intricate texturing and craftsmanship.  This man can deftly weave a captivating and sophisticated yet circuitous tale that is not fully comprehended until reaching that last thoughtfully written page.  The story was slowly and stealthily crafted with threads of Greek mythology, history, and creative magic while deploying a narrative densely populated with elusive and eccentric characters who navigate interesting twists and turns that appeared ancillary until it was apparent they weren’t.  Didn’t I mention he was clever and sneaky?
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4..5/5

This is the second book I read by this author, and again what thrilled me the most was the ability to transport the reader almost physically into the story, the situation, the characters and the emotions flowing around. It's one of these "fine books" we readers wait and wait for, and you need some time for it because the trick sits in the details, the descriptions, and without really going into it you'll miss what is the gem of the book: the atmosphere. 
We know beforehand that one of the topics is the Alzheimer's disease. It's handled full of empathy.
I've read an endless number of books in my life and realized a book, no matter how good in the middle, sticks only with me for good, stays in my heart, when the ending is great, and this ending here is perfect. 

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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My Review:

Genre: Historical, fantasy, post-WWII.

My Rating and recommendation: Since I did not finish this book I will not give a rating or recommendation as that would be unfair to the publisher, author, and even possible readers that may want to check this book out but a poor rating turned them away.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book and read until late 80-ish, I stopped reading because of personal views but before that I had enjoyed the book, and I liked the characters and wanted to know more. Chapter 1 opened with an extremely gripping scene of a man returning from war, which I loved! Even though I didn’t finish the book I can say that I enjoyed the beginning. Plus, I fell in love with the cover but read my warnings to see if you want to read it for yourself, there are spoilers so read on with caution.

Warnings: Where to start? I was all right with the mentions of Greek gods since they’re just myths . . . but when a character had memories of people from hundreds if not a thousand years before, I was disturbed. There was also the fact that the same character remembered when they were a baby, not even a few months old. I couldn’t finish it after that and am sad about it as I had enjoyed the book so far otherwise. There are mentions of nude statues.
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I was initially intrigued by the unique cover on this book. It's written by a new-to-me author, but the story line also grabbed my attention.

It is the story of Vitto. He returns home from WWII and discovers that he cannot go back to life as it was. His memories are everywhere, haunting him.

While he was away, his father, Robert developed Alzheimers.

Vitto's poor wife, Valerie, now has to care for Vitto, along with Robert and their young son.

When Vitto wakes up in the middle of a nightmare one night and finds himself attempting to strangle his wife, he knows something has to change.

So many hard things in this story. PTSD. Trauma. Alzheimers. And more.

This book is very different from most of the books I read. It is published by a Christian publisher, but there is very little about Christianity within its pages. Much of the story reminds me of an allegory, and there are many references to myths and gods.

I was very intrigued by the story, and found much food for thought, but I didn't necessarily agree with everything as it was presented. It left me with more questions than answers. And I think that may very well have been the author's intent all along.

Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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I enjoyed this book, and I'm grateful to NetGalley for the chance to read and review it. This is the third book I have read this year that is set in the time of post-World War II, and it is the second book that also heavily references mythology. I was drawn to VItto Gandy and felt for him and his family, trying to deal with his PTSD as well as his father's Alzheimer's, especially considering how new of a disease Alzheimer's was at the time. The descriptions of the Tuscany hotel were lush and beautiful, and I appreciated how the author did not spell everything out for the reader, but left many things open to our interpretation. I definitely recommend this book.
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This book is a great read. The author did a great job blending  Greek mythology with the present.  If you like Greek Mythology you will enjoy this book. 
The story line in this book makes you want to visit the Tuscany Hotel!
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This is one of those books that you read that you know when you are reading will stick with you.  You can feel the characters making their mark on your heart and memory.  Even from the introduction of the Tuscany Hotel, James Markert begins to weave his spell on your imagination.  When the characters finally enter the hotel, the reader is given exacting detail into what I think of as the main character of this story.  The setting is so thoughtfully written that you can’t help but imagine what can be.  The hotel seems tinged in grey, but the possibility of a return to glory twinkles in the edge of your imagination.

You meet the hotel and realize, this is possibility.  This is hope.  Like life, you have to look through your past, see through your fear, see through what is in order to imagine what could be.  For Vitto, and Magdelana, and most of us, it’s that first step that the hardest and the trickiest.  The crux of this book lies in trying to find out how to accomplish facing your past without losing your present.

This book has almost everything I could possibly want.  Mythic creatures, beautiful landscapes, foreign locales, intriguing characters, beautiful art, and wine.  Uplifting and tragic at the same time.  There are a lot of things I could say about how wonderful this book is, but honestly you should read it for yourself.  I am really going to miss my time at the Tuscany Hotel.

* Special thanks to James Markert, Thomas Nelson, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel in exchange for an honest review.
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I love each and every one of James' books - and I am happy to say this one is my favorite today!!  I say that because every time comes out with a book, it is then my favorite!!  His books are just such a pleasure to read.  I love reading his writing and I also love how every one of his books have a spiritual side to them.  This one is memory -- what would you do to gain back your memory?  Is remembering everything a good thing?
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I thought this book was terrific.  This was such a beautiful story about artists and their muses, about memories lost, memories found again, and the truths behind myths and legends. The prose was lush, lyrical and it was indeed a pleasure to read, as it created both suspense and mystique.  

It was also incredibly atmospheric, and Markert’s descriptions of the Tuscany Hotel brought it to life for me, so much so that I could picture myself there with all the guests, with its majestic fountains, its grand turrets, and colored doors.  I loved the idea of a place where people were able to gather for a second chance at life. 

I also loved the theme surrounding memory and the mysteries of the mind; so we have a character who remembers everything, another who is unable to make any new memories at all, and yet another who has lost his memories due to disease.  This was such a unique premise and one that hits you right in the heart.  There’s also the theme of quality of life vs. quantity of life, a conversation that many of us may have to have as some point in our lives.  So in this way, I think that this is not only a powerful book but also a story that has the potential to be transformative.  

It was fun how the author incorporated Greek Mythology into the story.  At first, I was confused by the amount of mythology that the author presented but it all connected wonderfully and fell into place by the end, and I thought it was brilliant --  how all the mythology details are worked seamlessly into the action of the story.  Of course, the mythology angle makes sense that it all starts out with Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.

Additionally, the mystery surrounding the fountain was enthralling as were the histories and stories of those who drank from it.  I also loved watching a son solve the well-hidden mystery of his parents and the healing that came with it.

All in all, I thought that Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel was smart, original, sophisticated storytelling — a beautifully crafted and smartly written character-driven novel where magic can be found in the mundane.  This was a strong 5-star read for me, and it was also my first introduction to this author, and I hope to read more by him in the future.

A huge thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions are my own.
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This book started out so well, but I admit to doing a lot of skimming to just get to the end. In my opinion, there is way too much Greek mythology included in the book. It is well written, with good character development.
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Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is a story that deals with the question of whether quality of life is a better choice than quantity of life, and how our memories can help us come to terms with our past.

Plot:

Vitto is a returning WWII soldier suffering from PTSD. His young son doesn’t remember him, his wife, Valerie, is scared of his violent outbursts, and his father, Robert, is suffering from Alzheimer’s, becoming a shell of the great sculptor he used to be. 

When Robert goes missing, Vitto and his wife know where to look first: the run-down Tuscany Hotel that Robert and his wife, Magdelena, built together years before as a haven for artists and creative minds to use as a retreat.

When they find Robert at the hotel, he has regained his memories, telling them that the fountain water can cure a broken mind like his. Soon, the hotel is flooded with people suffering from memory issues, and their families, looking for a way to restore their minds and their lives.

But drinking the water comes at a cost, and Robert, Vitto, and the rest of the Tuscany Hotel residents must decide whether getting their lives back is worth the price.

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it.

It has a slow beginning, and not very likeable characters. Obviously, it’s understandable that Vitto is angry and unpredictable, he’s just come back from war, and his family has completely changed since he left. His son is older than the baby he left behind and barely recognises him. And his father has lost his once sharp mind, unable to feed or clean himself. 

But after the first couple of chapters, and once we’re introduced to the Tuscany Hotel, this story really begins, and the slower pace starts to work in its favour. I don’t always like slow burners, I’ve said it before that I prefer to have a book keep me on edge and up all night reading. But this book would never have worked if it was faster. The slow pace adds to the tranquillity and relaxing atmosphere of the Tuscany Hotel and pulls you deep into the character’s lives.

The beautiful writing and lyrical language also pull you right in.

The descriptions of the hotel and its surroundings almost make the setting a character in itself. The colours jump off the page and make everything all the more life-like. 

I’m someone who isn’t usually a fan of long descriptions any more than I’m a fan of a slow pace, but the way Markert uses words to create atmosphere and set the scene is so beautiful it’s hard to be bored by it. 

The backdrop of Greek mythology was one of my favourite things about the story.

I love a bit of mythology, and I think it’s interesting to read about the mythology of other countries. I don’t know a lot about Greek mythology (mostly what I learned from Disney’s Hercules as a kid, and I don’t know how accurate that was), so I enjoyed hearing all of the stories that Magdelena told Vitto as a kid, who then subsequently tells his own son as a way of bonding with him.

(Side note: one of my favourite parts of this book was when Vitto is telling his son, William, the story of Cronus eating his children, William’s response was ‘Eat ‘em in bites like a cookie? Or in one pop like an olive?’ That made me laugh so much!).

I’ve read a few other people’s thoughts on this book, and it seems to be agreed that Markert got the mythology spot-on, so I’m happy it was one of the things that I enjoyed.

I should know by now not to judge a book I haven’t read...

... yet I still do it. 

There are elements of this book that would be considered magic-realism, and thankfully I only realised this after I started reading and was already absorbed.

I’ve read two books previously that are considered part of the magic-realism genre (or at least part-considered). The first is Love in the Time of Cholera which I hated. So much so that I didn’t even bother finishing it, and it takes a lot for me not to finish a book.

The second was The Hoarder by Jess Kidd, and I’m ashamed to say that seeing a comment on the book cover about its magic-realism elements put me off it, and I didn’t enjoy that book as much as I was expecting. I can’t say for definite that it was because of the genre, but I definitely went into the book with a negative feeling, mostly based on the fact that I hated Love in the Time of Cholera so much.

I judged that book by its cover.

So I am so glad that nowhere in the blurb for Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel did it say anything about magic-realism because it definitely would have put me off and I might not have enjoyed this book as much as I did. 

So if this book gave me nothing else, it at least made me remember not to be so judgemental about genres, and to maybe give magic-realism another go (just not Love in the Time of Cholera).
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I really enjoyed this book. The subject of dementia is very close to home, so to read a book where the effects could be limited was heart-warming. I loved the fantasy/Greek mythology aspect as well. The book was well-written, with believable characters, and the progress as we discover more about Magdalena works well. Well worth the read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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