Well, this is one of those books that makes me feel like I better become an author. Seriously, can any old crap become a bestseller? If so, let me start writing. That's a bit mean, but DUDE. It was a bit rubbish.
It tells the story of a young man who as a university project goes to study a Renaissance garden in Italy. It's written in the past, and opens with him in university, and the narrator says of his past self: "Try as he might, he couldn't penetrate the workings of that stranger's mind, let alone say with any certainty how he would have dealt with the news that murder lay in wait for him, right around the corner." I mean, seriously. Murder . . . right around the corner. Hurl.
So it's quite charmingly evocative of an Italian summer, but then it goes down a sort of de Vinci style what secret was hidden in the garden 400 years ago type route, which is distinctly borderline as a plot. We discover a 400 year old murder and also a contemporary one, and also have a love interest and some distinctly dodgy sex scenes.
I got it at a short story reading event I went to quite randomly, where there were cupcakes with labels saying 'Eat Me' (as in Alice in Wonderland) and books saying 'Take Me' - of which this was one - and so though I didn't enjoy the book I enjoyed the rather sweet way I came by it.
I just have to tell you that the first line of the author's bio is "Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986." I guess that's the beginning and end of his life and everthing we need to know about him. Hurl.