Two Women in Rome

by Elizabeth Buchan

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Books of the Month Literary Fiction Crime and Mystery

LoveReading Expert Review of Two Women in Rome

A gently told mystery sits at the heart of this evocative novel set in two time frames within a vivid and vibrant Rome.

Gentle, mysterious, and incredibly evocative, this is a novel to read slowly and absorb. After realising no-one attended the funeral of garden designer Nina Lawrence in 1978, archivist Lottie begins to investigate her life and death. The story flows between Lottie finding her feet in Rome, and excerpts from Nina’s notebook. While the two women sit centre stage, it is actually Rome that struts forward to earn the title of lead character. Elizabeth Buchan has brought this wondrous city to life, the social history, the small intricate details that make a place touchable and breathable all flow from the page. We are allowed an almost immediate connection with Lottie, while Nina remains enigmatically detached. Information about Nina is slowly revealed and I sat back and observed her life unfolding. Quietly cultivated reveals keep a soft tension thrumming through the novel. I rather liked the fact that I didn’t know every intimate detail. While the ending enfolds and divulges answers, not everything was resolved and I was left still pondering, still thinking, still wondering. Two Women in Rome is an atmospheric, truly lovely read, with a deep mystery at its heart.

Liz Robinson

Two Women in Rome Synopsis

A beautifully atmospheric new tale from the prize-winning, bestselling novelist Elizabeth Buchan.

In the Eternal City, no secret stays hidden forever...

Lottie Archer arrives in Rome excited to begin her new job as an archivist. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence.

Nina seems to have led a rewarding and useful life, restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978?

In exploring Nina's past, Lottie unravels a tragic love story beset by the political turmoil of post-war Italy. And as she edges closer to understanding Nina, she begins to confront the losses in her own life.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781786495327
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Author: Elizabeth Buchan
Publisher: Corvus Atlantic Books
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 368 pages
Collections: Summer Is Here - Feast Your Eyes on LoveReading's Ever-growing List of Summer Reading Recommendations,
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
Other Genres:
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Two Women in Rome Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

The beauty of the writing of this book is evident from the outset. Two ladies in very different ages but with fascinating careers and personal lives. Get ready to be brought into a historical mystery of a book all the while being surrounded by the elegance and awe inspiring architecture of Rome. Perfect holiday read - grab yourself a long drink, a comfortable seat in the sun and drink in this intelligent story.

This book was a slow burner for me. It took a while to get to the plot of the novel but we are distracted with the beauty of Rome and the story of Lottie and her trials of trying to fit in with Italian culture.
Lottie begins her new job as an archivist and comes across a file of a lady called Nina - a seemingly simple gardener who creates beautiful gardens for the Italian rich. But there is more to her story and we begin to see her life in a diary that Lottie uncovers.
The novel may start as a slow burner but it sucks you in and goes on to burn as brightly as these two ladies' lives. I could not stop reading in the last third of the book and I was not disappointed.

Sinead Blowers

An atmospheric exploration of the love lives of two women who lived in Rome at different times.

Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan
Elizabeth Buchan’s latest novel centres on the lives and loves of two women, with the city of Rome providing a richly depicted backdrop. The novel interweaves the experiences of Lottie Archer, a newly-married,young archivist just setting up home in Rome, with that of Nina Lawrence, an established landscape gardener who died there in 1978.

Lottie takes up a new role at Archivo Espatriati and finds what seems to be a valuable 15th century painting among Nina’s papers. Her investigation into the provenance of the painting and Nina’s life in and around Rome becomes entangled in Eternal City politics, espionage and secrets.

Buchan has created an intriguing story, seamlessly mixing danger, tragedy, loss and love for her two major characters. The supporting cast are well depicted, with their actions and motivations well described, maintaining the tension of a thriller. This novel is an atmospheric, tender exploration of love for two modern women.

Linde Merrick

This is a great read which I found difficult to put down.

This is a great read which I found difficult to put down.

Lotte Archer is newly married to Tom Archer and they have come to live in Rome where he is an employee of the British Council. She has been fortunate to be appointed as Chief Archivist at the Archivo Espatriati. They have moved into his flat which he shared with a previous partner who is still in Rome. Lotte has to overcome her insecurity about this and also win the housekeeper over. 

Her new job begins with a collection of papers which belonged to an English woman named Nina Lawrence who lived in Rome in 1978. The papers include a beautiful painting as well as her diary. Nina has been employed as a garden designer, but she is also involved in other work. Lotte tries to investigate but finds more questions than answers, and she finds that Tom is very reluctant for her to continue.

Nina is killed in Rome but the event is shown as a suicide. Lotte’s enquiries uncover a secret that has been hidden since that time. Her work on the papers, however, enable her to bring a letter to the love of Nina’s life, and to begin to understand the actions of her own Mother.

A thoroughly enjoyable read. A good story, well told.

Kathy Howell

I loved the descriptions of Rome and felt like I was walking the streets.

I have read a few of Elizabeth's books before and was keen to read this especially being set in Rome.

I loved the descriptions of Rome and felt like I was walking the streets.

I learnt new things from this book too I had no idea about the fall out and unrest created from WWII that was seen in the 1970s.

It's a good story with Lottie figuring out what had happened to Nina. Dual storylines are my favourite type of book. It's well written and I enjoyed the story

Cheryl Watson

Elizabeth Buchan Press Reviews

Elizabeth Buchan's new novel transports us to Rome in the 1970s and Rome today. Two women caught up in a tangled net of sex and espionage. If you enjoy a good spy story set in the alluring world of La Dolce Vita, Buchan's gripping read will not disappoint. - Carol Drinkwater

Impeccable writing and a fascinating exploration of women's lives. Rome is so richly depicted I could almost feel the heat of its pavements beneath my feet as I read and smell the incense in the cool interiors of its churches. The beauty of the city and its surrounding landscapes is threaded through with an ominous sense of danger for the young protagonist, Lottie, as she digs into the past and unpicks its secrets. A wonderfully enigmatic and vivid read, I couldn't recommend this novel more highly. - E.C. Fremantle

A feast for the senses - love, intrigue, danger and tragedy set against the swooning beauty of the Eternal City of Rome. A gripping mystery interwoven with Elizabeth Buchan's customary deep understanding of passion and human frailty. Her most stunning novel yet. - V. B. Grey

An exquisite story about the beauty of art and the secrets that lie beneath all our surfaces. Elizabeth Buchan's new novel is both tensely plotted and utterly immersive. The atmosphere of Rome and its buried past rises from every page. - Jane Thynne

Elegant and atmospheric, with two complex interlocking stories than join past and present. An excellent read. - Fanny Blake

Buchan writes of young love with a gorgeous tenderness... Enthralling and beautifully written. - The Times on The Museum of Broken Promises

Gripping... This dark story, beautifully written, is shot through with the white heat of first love. - Daily Mail on The Museum of Broken Promises

A beautiful, evocative love story, a heart-breaking journey into a long-buried past. - David Nicholls on The Museum of Broken Promises

It's a gem of a book... Beautiful, elegant. - Marian Keyes on The Museum of Broken Promises

Intricately plotted and beautifully written. - Katie Fforde on The Museum of Broken Promises

An amazing, emotive, heartbreaking but also ultimately uplifting novel. I really loved it. - Laura Barnett on The Museum of Broken Promises

So beautifully steeped in the spirit of a place, Two Women in Rome completely transported me to the city. Art, passion, and mystery - expertly layered, this is a rich and gorgeous book. -- Eve Chase -

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781786495327
Publication date: 03/06/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Elizabeth Buchan

Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books after graduating from the University of Kent with a double degree in English and History. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full-time. Her novels include the award-winning Consider the Lily and the international bestseller, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, which was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Other novels include I Can’t Begin to Tell You, a story of SOE agents and resistance in wartime Denmark, and The New Mrs Clifton which is set in London and ...

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