APPASSIONATA by Jeanette Salerno


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An overripe romance set in a rose-colored Rome of the Fifties and Seventies, juicy with bel canto confessions and layered with prosciutto. The central triangle: Sean Royden, in 1950 an American medical student; Marco, a Valentino-style film star whose family name is, appropriately, Anguissola; and exciting Bruna, a girl of many moods and men, with curls ""like flying corkscrews. . . swelling out in back with uncrushable spirit."" Sean, who doesn't wish to follow in his father's medical footsteps, drops out; and, urged by friend Marco, he comes to Rome--where he discovers Bruna. In spite of Bruna's initial skittishness, and Marco's curious reluctance to encourage him, Sean persists: he and Bruna become lovers. But there are secrets in Bruna's sad background--she had an affair with a young German soldier (who was shot by the man who loved her, a partisan), her brother was the victim of a Nazi atrocity, she's been carrying on with a Prince named Piero--and Sean gets awfully puzzled by hints and dues. It's only much later, however--after Bruna's search for an acting job (for which she has no talent), some near-sexual closeness between Sean and Marco, Marco's probably-deliberate death in an auto accident, and the loss of Bruna's baby (by whom?)--that Bruna tells all in a longwinded confession. Thus, a horrified Sean returns to the US, medicine, and a reconciliation with his father. Then, two decades later, Sean at last returns, burning with the need to find Bruna, but she has completely disappeared. A fat, simpatico detective cleverly sleuths and, after an interminable report, he leads Sean to the long deferred paradise. Written with a gush that sheds clinkers like ""Her face went pink, hot, her eyes up, stock-still and unconcealably reverent,"" this is, however, harmless: a cheerfully blowsy piece for those fancying a sob or two into the Campari.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Dial