A travel writer checks in to an idyllic hotel on an Italian island – but Kit Costa isn’t there only to write a feature. She was brought up by her mother, Rosa. Her father died before she was born – or so Rosa always told her. But as Rosa succumbs to illness, a last confession reveals that he’s still alive, and Kit finally learns his name. And once she has his name, she can begin to track him down…
Kit’s quest takes her to Elba and the Hotel Mille Luci – the Hotel of a Thousand Lights of the title, owned by the man she believes to be her father.
This book is a satisfying read on many different levels. You can lose yourself in the descriptions of the food, the hotel’s Mediterranean setting, the sunsets. It’s the kind of secret-escape hotel we’d all love to discover.
There’s the simmering tension between Kit and Oliviero – to her, her half brother; to him, another beautiful holidaymaker ripe for romance. There’s Valentino, her father, apparently unaware of the truth. He’s the perfect hotel host, so why did her mother describe him ominously as not very nice at all?
Further secrets are revealed with each plot twist and turn, keeping the reader guessing right to the last chapters. And because it’s told in turn from the viewpoints of the three main characters, you gain a real insight into each of them.
One of the many things I liked about this book was the observations of the other hotel guests, and how they behave on holiday – just as we all behave with our little patterns and routines. And Emylia Hall exercises that fine observation throughout. I’m sure she must carry a notebook and pen everywhere and jot constantly.
This is a rich, satisfying book and perfect summer reading. “The Thousand Lights Hotel” is out now in paperback original by Headline, £8.99.
And you can read a short story written by Emylia specially for “The People’s Friend” and an exclusive interview in Special 145, on sale Aug 23.