The House of the Wind is a novel consisting of two storylines, one set in the present day and one in the 14th century. In 2007 we meet Madeline Moretti, a young lawyer living in San Francisco. Maddie is grieving for her fiancé, Chris, who has been killed in a car accident. She is also involved in a complicated legal case involving a large company suspected of putting the health of their employees at risk. In an attempt to help Maddie cope with her bereavement away from the stresses of her job, her Italian grandmother arranges for her to spend some time in Italy with a family friend. When Maddie arrives in Tuscany she becomes intrigued by the legend of the Casa al Vento, or House of the Wind, which tells of a woman who emerged unscathed from the ruins of a house destroyed by a storm.
The second main thread of the novel is set in the same area of Tuscany in the year 1347, a time when a mysterious and deadly disease is spreading across Europe. Maria Maddalena, known as Mia, has been raised by her Aunt Jacquetta and hasn’t spoken since her mother’s tragic death. When two young pilgrims come to stay at Jacquetta’s house, Mia slowly begins to find her voice again and at the same time makes some surprising discoveries about her past.
The House of the Wind is the first book I’ve read by Titania Hardie. I thought her writing was beautiful and whether I was reading about 14th century Tuscany or modern day California I was able to become completely immersed in the time and place. I also liked the way so many different elements of myths and legends, religion, poetry, medieval medicine, arts and literature were incorporated into the story.
The obvious similarity between Maddie’s story and Mia’s is that they are both young women trying to deal with their pain and grief (more than six centuries apart) but there are lots of other connections between the two and these are slowly revealed to us as the novel progresses. Although both of the storylines were engaging, I found I was much more interested in the 14th century one and it was fascinating to learn what life was like in Tuscany during that period. However, I’ve read a lot of books with dual timeframes and it seems to be almost inevitable that I’ll like one more than the other (usually the historical one due to my love of historical fiction). I expect there will be plenty of other readers who prefer the present day storyline!
The only problem I had with this book was that the pace was too slow for me in places and there were times when I felt the plot wasn’t moving forward at all, which made the book feel longer than it needed to be. Other than that, I enjoyed The House of the Wind and as I haven’t read Titania Hardie’s previous novel, The Rose Labyrinth, I still have that one to look forward to.
I received a copy of this book from Headline for review