A "Time "Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2011
A "Seattle Times "Best Book of 2011
On a hill above the Italian village of Ravello sits the Villa Cimbrone, a place of fantasy and make-believe. The characters who move through Michael Holroyd's "A Book of Secrets" are destined never to meet, yet the Villa Cimbrone and one man unite them all.
This elegiac work is about the quest of unearthing and recounting the stories of women always on the periphery of the respectable world--from Alice Keppel, the mistress of both the second Lord Grimthorpe and the Prince of Wales; to Eve Fairfax, a muse of Auguste Rodin; to the novelist Violet Trefusis, the lover of Vita Sackville-West.
Also on the margins is the elusive biographer, who on occasion turns an appraising eye upon himself as part of his investigations in the maze of biography.