Disclaimer: E. Graziani was kind enough to send me a copy of Alice of the Rocks for review purposes.
Alice of the Rocks by E. Graziani is a novel set in the past and in the future. It tells the story of Alice, a girl from the year 2029, who goes on vacation to Italy with her parents over the summer. Alice seems to have everything going for her. She’s smart, pretty, has a long time boyfriend who loves her, awesome parents, but she’s unfocussed and as she enters her final year of high school is unsure of what she wants to do afterwards. However, she’s excited to go back to Italy, because, as it turns out, Alice was found abandoned as an infant in Italy and adopted by her parents, who later immigrated to Canada. Circumstances summon her parents back to Canada for work, but Alice stays on in Italy, staying with her aunt and uncle and eventually going to stay in a villa near Florence (I think). At this villa, she meets a boy named Claudio and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him.
However, the 2029 setting is not the only setting of the book. It also goes back in time to the time Leonardo DaVinci and focuses on a girl named Elisa, who is an orphaned scullery maid in the kitchens of the Medici family. Elisa falls in love with a duke named Claudio, and this brings her into a situation she was never prepared for and danger that she doesn’t really deserve.
This story has a little bit of everything. There is romance, adventure, a historical setting, a futuristic setting, time travel and more. This books checks more boxes than I knew were available to be checked. I think the plot of it is very unique and it really intrigued me when I was looking at the different titles that Graziani had written. If a time travelling romance with historical aspects at all interests you, then I suggest you check out this book.
Overall, I gave this book four out of five stars. I enjoyed it; it was a fun read, but it didn’t blow me out of the water. I think it’s an accessible book and any difficulties I had with it were because of my own doing.
It took me a long time to read this book. I got the ebook in July, and didn’t finish it til early September. I read a lot in July and put myself into a bit of a slump in August, and it was really only having the perfect prompt for the Owls Readathon Redo that I’m doing that I really found the motivation to read it. However, that is completely on me and not the fault of the book or the author.
I did have a few little issues with the book, which are not the reason it brought it down to a four (that has to do more with my own personal standards as a reader; it just didn’t match up to some of my five star reads this year). One thing is the futuristic setting. I’m not really sure that 2029 is so far into the future that Alice’s cell phone needed to be called anything other than a cell phone or a smartphone. Graziani used the phrase “tech device” repeatedly, and it jarred me from the narrative and didn’t really give me any frame of reference for what this was supposed to be. It was essentially just a smartphone, so it would have made more sense to call it that. Additionally, I felt some of the animosity that Alice’s aunt and uncle had towards Claudio when they met him was super unnecessary. I am totally of the mind that you should be safe and careful while travelling in a foreign country, I just felt like they were extra rude to him when really they could have just checked with his employers to see if he was at all trustworthy.
One major issue I had with this novel was that it felt somewhat insta-love-y. I am all for willingly suspending my disbelief when I read a story (especially with Romeo and Juliet), but here it seemed like Elisa and Claudio met and with a snap of fingers they were in love with the other. Insta-love is one of my least favourite tropes in writing. However, I can forgive it between Claudio and Alice in the future setting, because there is a reason they are drawn together.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this novel was that it had multiple points of view. We switched between timelines, yes, but we also switched between the characters’ minds. In the future we saw into mostly Alice and Claudio’s heads, but in the past we got a glimpse through Elisa, Claudio, Da Vinci and more. It was nice to have an idea of what was happening behind the scenes and not be limited to the perspective of one single character. The book definitely relied on that function because if we stuck strictly to just, for example, Alice and Elisa’s perspectives, we wouldn’t really have a good understanding of what was going on.
Another thing that I really liked is the historical aspect. Italian history is something that I know next to nothing about and even though I wouldn’t trust a historical fiction book to be the source of all truth, it was neat to have the book set in the 1500s and to have the story feature so famous a man as Da Vinci as one of the prominent main characters. I am a total nerd for stuff like that and so I was all here for that.
As mentioned, this book got a four star rating from me, and I would definitely recommend it to you. Plus, if you want more from the world, there is a sequel you can read as well!
Great review, Ashley! I recently posted my review of one of E. Graziani’s books as well. I’m glad this one was just as good!