Tess Miller, a book editor in 1987 New York, is shocked when her boss pulls her from working with her top client to editing a book from an obscure Australian poet. She blames her demotion on the new golden boy at the publishing company, James. Tess reluctantly reads the poet’s manuscript and is immediately entranced by the decades-old love story.
In 1946 Australia, Edward Russell falls for the artist Rebecca Swift. After the scourges of WWII, young people are trying to change their beliefs and eradicate the class system that restricts them. Edward is the second son of a fine old family, but he wants nothing to do with their wealth and old-fashioned ideas. Rebecca is struggling to break out, away from her overbearing mother, and finds solace and love with Edward—but his family does not approve of her. A series of tragedies sets them both on paths they did not expect.
Tess travels to Rome, where Edward lives, after she realizes his novel is autobiographical. She wants the world to celebrate the elusive Rebecca. To her fury, James must accompany her. However, Edward refuses any outward commercialism concerning his story. And there’s the rub: If Edward wanted his novel to remain literary and quiet, he shouldn’t have submitted it to a major commercial publishing house. Also, James swears he didn’t steal Tess’s client, but he’s never allowed to explain the details.
The novel is predictable in places, especially the modern section. The romance there seems forced. Learning about Sunday and John Reed and the modernist movement in Australia was thought-provoking and compelled me to search out their history. The prose is simple, but the story held my interest, and it’s a diverting read.