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The House of Mirrors (La Casa Degli Specchi)

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Original Language: Italian | 260 pp. | September 2019

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, Nordic countries and World English rights.

Rights sold: Germany (Blanvalet), the Netherlands (Xander). Under option: France, World English

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Cristina Caboni is the storyteller best loved by Italian readers. Her books reconstruct fascinating and very different worlds. In this new novel the magic of Positano encounters the unfailing echo of the golden years of Italian cinema. And it is here that the young heroine must find her own place in the world.

The great villa in Positano is the only place Milena manages to call home. She grew up there, with her grandfather, Michele, and she knows every nook and cranny, starting from the grand entrance hall hung with twelve mirrors framed in inlaid silver. Mirrors that seem capable of laying bare her soul. Milena has touched them thousands of times in search of answers but one day she comes across something unexpected: a hook that opens up a passage into a secret room. Inside, the walls are covered with old movie posters. When the name of one of the actresses catches Milena’s eye, she can hardly believe it. It’s a name that has been banned in the house.

The name of her grandmother who fled to America many years previously, leaving no trace. Browsing through her papers, Milena discovers things she would never have imagined. That she’d been an actress in the Rome of the dolce vita. That she’d fought to make her way in a fascinating but male-dominated world. That their dreams are very similar.

She, too, wants to go on the stage but is afraid to take the plunge. Until she comes across certain clues that suggest a mystery and she can’t help wondering why nobody ever spoke to her about her grandmother. There’s only one person who could give her explanations but Michele is reluctant to talk about it. Milena is convinced that the gleaming mirrors decorating the entrance to the villa have witnessed terrible events and that there is a secret in her family that nobody wants to bring up again, whilst for her it is vital for the truth to emerge, so that she can fully understand the present. Although sometimes it’s better for what has been buried by past years to remain there.

Cristina Caboni is one of the most prestigious and highly esteemed voices on the Italian literary scene. Through her novels, such as, amongst others, The Secret Ways of Perfume and The Binder of Lost Stories, she finds her way straight into the reader’s heart.