From the moment she hears Lev's violin for the first time, Helena Attlee is captivated. She is told that it is an Italian instrument, named after its former Russian owner. Eager to discover all she can about its ancestry, and the stories contained within its delicate wooden body, she sets out for its birthplace, Cremona, once the hometown of famous luthier Antonio Stradivari. This is the beginning of a beguiling journey whose end she could never have anticipated.
Making its way from the cobbled streets of sixteenth-century Cremona, through cool churches, glittering courts, and little coastal opera houses, Lev's Violin takes us from the heart of Italian culture to its very furthest reaches. Its tale of princes and orphans, virtuosos and fraudsters, collectors, composers, travellers and raconteurs, swells to an enrapturing meditation on the power of objects, stories and music to shape individual lives and craft entire cultures.
Helena Attlee is the author of the award-winning Sunday Times bestseller The Land Where Lemons Grow. Italy has always been her special interest, and as well as inspiring many of her books and magazine features, it has been a focus for the garden tours she designed and led for many years.
Truly fascinating . . . For many years, Attlee has been collecting evidence for a story of citrus trees in Italy. The result, The Land Where Lemons Grow, is remarkable, excellently produced and essential for all lovers of Italy, their summer libraries and out-of-season itineraries . . . Attlee's book is unmissable for anyone intrigued by the relation between humans' travel, greed and ingenuity and the spread of the plants that we eat, smell and drink -- Robin Lane Fox The Financial Times Thrillingly sensual, and zesty in every sense, Helena Attlee is the best of companions as she leads us through sundrenched citrus groves and in and out of history. A book full of surprises, with many curiosities, stories and recipes on the way Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel It turned out to be the book I pressed on friends more than any other this year. If they were bemused, I hope they remained to be charmed. I read it randomly a few pages at a time until there were no pages I hadn't read twice. It was my respite from purposive reading. -- Tom Stoppard The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year Praise for 'The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit' - A readable, well-written, charming and original example of the history-sleuthing genre of non-fiction. The book leads the reader with a light touch through matters and histories that might seem esoteric, but are in fact consistently intriguing because of the very personal character of the telling. Attlee has the natural story-teller's gift Stephen Walsh, Professor Emeritus of Music at Cardiff University, and author of Debussy: A Painter in Sound Utterly enthralling - a beautifully-written voyage of discovery that takes us deep into the heart of music-making. -- Deborah Moggach