When 13-year-old Beatrice Archer moves to Rome with her father, she does not speak a word of Italian.
The lucky girl moves into an apartment overlooking Piazza Mattei and quickly becomes enamored with the turtle fountain in the square below her window. The Fontana delle Tartarughe is one of my favorite fountains too, so I am not surprised that she falls prey to its charms.
She can gaze down at the bronze turtles which dangle from the edge of the lovely fountain any time she likes. The perfect little turtles were sculpted by none other than Bernini, and were added to an earlier fountain designed by Giacomo della Porta.
One evening, Beatrice sees a figure trying to steal the priceless turtles and the chance encounter leads her through an adventure that combines Ancient Roman ruins, a family curse, medieval nobility and mysterious cast of characters in Tiffany Park’s debut young adult novel Midnight in the Piazza.
I was lucky enough to hear Tiffany read from her novel when she presented it at the Otherwise Bookshop, and she kindly shared a copy for me to review. The story is aimed at younger readers but I was fully hooked.
In the novel, Beatrice stumbles upon a mystery that takes her through some of the most captivating spots in Rome. It makes for a great fictional introduction of buildings and places that can really be explored in the Eternal City. It would be the perfect story for older kids and teens who might be joining a family trip to Italy.
There is art history, but there is also simply an engaging plot that keeps you racing through the chapters to find out if the clues will all fall into place before the looming, sinister appointment that the heroine has learned is just days away. (But I won’t give too much away).
The writing flows so easily thanks to Tiffany’s storytelling skills but also because she knows and loves Rome so well. It made for the perfect vacation read when I was traveling in southern Italy earlier this week.
I am also in awe that Tiffany found the time to write this! Her main character is a flame-haired teen, but she has her own little three-year-old redhead at home. Congrats to Tiffany on the wonderful story – as well as for bringing it to life while being a hardworking mama!
Want to hear more from Tiffany? Check out her great podcast The Bittersweet Life.
Please note that the book link is an affiliate link which means that it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but that I earn a small commission should you choose to make a purchase. If you are in Rome, I highly recommend picking up a copy in person and supporting the Otherwise Bookshop or heading out to your own local independent bookstore.
Want to keep reading? Here are some of my other favorite books about Rome.