MARIA CANOSSA by Sandra Paretti
Kirkus Star

MARIA CANOSSA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although not quite as inventively and lushly mellow as The Magic Ship (1979), this latest romance by popular German author Paretti, set in 1943 Rome under German occupation, has a gauzy, bittersweet charm. Maria Canossa, separated from her chilly, callous German husband of nine years, and recovering from a suicide attempt, returns to her native Rome to join her fighter pilot brother, Gianni. But Gianni is dead (only later will she learn that he did not die in combat); and in Gianni's apartment Maria meets Marco Varelli: ""He had one of those Roman faces which had always irritated her. . . open but entirely mysterious."" And, indeed, Marco seems surrounded by mystery--sudden absences, strange voices and messages, secret meetings. Nevertheless, their love grows, while Maria works as a translator for the German embassy and--in the evenings--for elderly, Swedish doctor/archaeologist Lennart Larsson. And only later will Maria become aware of a network of intermingled plots and counterplots, codes and decoders, with dangerous connections to a possible Allied invasion: it seems that the dead Giauni, Marco, and two members of the German embassy staff have been working with the Allies--and they will be betrayed. Maria does her bit as courier, all the while passionately adoring the ""phantom"" Marco (she's adored in turn as a ""phantom woman"" by Larsson) and awhirl in--ah!--""the eternal geometry of love, the circle that is never closed, the spiral into the infinite."" But the love affair of Maria and Marco ends sadly on a diminished seventh as he disappears. . . forever? Paretti works with the ripest of romantic remnants: a heroine with a ""golden"" complexion; a hero with that one touch of vulnerability (a game leg); scenic views of a city rich in antiquity; villas in the hills and muffled omens. Yet somehow it all tinkles together like the classiest of cocktail-bar pianos--schmaltz with a touch of European chic.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's