About 30 years ago I found it in a used-book store and stayed up all night reading. The heroine, Constanza, is not only smart, beautiful, and unconventional, but she goes through her life questioning everything. Brought up in Italy by an American heiress and [an] Italian prince, she inhabits that rich, sensual European milieu of Henry James, a place where everyone speaks a dozen languages, dresses beautifully, travels constantly, and eats well. She is so beloved by the gods that during the war (the big first one), none of the men she loves is ever killed. And yet, it’s not enough for her, which is the real theme of this intelligent book….Bedford — a writer who is oddly unappreciated in America — has written better books, but they’re not as much fun as this one.
Ruth Reichl is the author of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples.