Publication of Louise Lee’s latest novel in the Florence Love series, In The Name of Love, is just around the corner. We asked Louise to give us a little insight into some research behind the novel…if someone tells you to head to Italy for research, do it!
Why Italy is all about Love
Research for In the Name of Love was a joy. Initially, I felt guilty about leaving the kids and other half to gallivant around Italy. But my editor told me I was professionally obliged to do so, probably. So I did.
Rome, Florence, Tuscany’s rolling hills, rivers, poplars and vineyards. My favourite times, however, were spent in the northeast – the bit where the Adriatic and Alps make one another’s acquaintance. Its landscape is an alien limestone plateau. River and lake vanish into the ground, magically resurfacing via funnels and sinkholes. I was once a geography teacher and am still a sucker for a geological landform, so the region’s topography made me feel very broody and contemplative. I’m not the only one. James Joyce wrote most of Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man while living here.
Oddly, however, Northeast Italy feels less ‘Italian’ than the rest of the country. Ruled by a lot of people through the ages, I didn’t see a spiritual bond to any. That always gives a place a permissive aura.
It felt right that Florence Love should start the journey in search of her mother here. The further south you go, the country gets more ‘Italian’. It’s a fascinating journey, mirrored by the changing landscape. Rich fields and vineyards, landscaped as topiary, give way to a dehydrated rocky coastline. By the time you hit the Messina Strait in the Mezzogiorno, you find an outlook quite different to the north – a raw, issue-laden and honour-bound passion, not unlike that of Florence Love. Only she makes the 1000km journey on a borrowed Vespa, noisy as a hairdryer, without a map or sun cream, all in the name of love. My forays were done in stints.
My next Florence Love book will not be set in Italy because writing In the Name of Love has taught me a valuable lesson: research is the best thing about being a writer. And I am professionally obliged. Probably.
NB. Always listen to your editor
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