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Reviews of The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

The Villa

A Novel

by Rachel Hawkins

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins X
The Villa by Rachel Hawkins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2023, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce's girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce's brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa's complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce's murder wasn't just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

CHAPTER ONE

Somewhere around the time she started calling herself "Chess," I realized I might actually hate my best friend.

It was the third name she'd given herself in the nearly twenty years I'd known her. When we'd met in fourth grade, she was just Jessica. Well, "Jessica C.," since there was also "Jessica M.," and "Jessica R.," and then one girl who just got to be Jessica, like she'd claimed the name first, and everyone else just had to fucking deal with it. So I guess it wasn't a surprise that by the time we were sophomores, Jessica C. had turned herself into "JC," which eventually morphed into "Jaycee."

That lasted until halfway through college. Sometime between her third and fourth change of major, she became simply, "Jay," holding on to that moniker until ten years ago, right after we both turned twenty-five and she'd finally broken up with that asshole, Lyle. That's when Chess was born.

Chess Chandler.

I can't deny that it sounds good, and it definitely looks good printed in ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Villa is a story of toxic relationships, dangerous secrets and men who underestimate the women in their lives. Rachel Hawkins's latest is a must-read for devotees of psychological thrillers with twisty endings, fans of dual timelines with unique setups and readers who enjoy strong female leads who do whatever it takes to succeed...continued

Full Review (629 words)

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(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
This story's finely honed interplay of creative ambition and haunting sadness makes it a step above. Hawkins pokes at the darker aspects of both true crime and self-help, and it works beautifully. Hawkins' star is definitely on the rise after two bestsellers, and this one will propel her further into the stratosphere.

Kirkus (starred review)
Hawkins casts a sharp eye throughout to the way we construct stories about female artists―and the moral ambiguity inherent in creation and fame. The effect lingers like a shadow, or a creature, that endures past the final words. Hawkins manages to achieve the seemingly impossible: A Frankenstein-inspired novel that feels both fresh and unique.

Library Journal
Give this one to readers looking for psychological suspense and twist endings, but those seeking high-stakes tension will want to look elsewhere.

Publishers Weekly
Friendship and professional jealousy fuel this nail-biter...Intense characters complement the brisk plot, which shifts smoothly between the present and 1974. Hawkins consistently entertains.

Author Blurb Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author
Rachel Hawkins DELIVERS with The Villa. Slick, twisty, and packed full of pop culture references spanning decades, this book is a perfectly delicious read. I devoured it as fast as I could and wanted to read it again immediately. Buy one for yourself and another for your best friend because you'll want to talk about it for days.

Author Blurb Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary
Cleverly-narrated via past and present timelines...The Villa teems with sexual tension, festering tempers, and questionable friendships. Hawkins' latest thriller reminds us that no matter what truths we think we've stumbled upon, writers cannot always be trusted―and certainly not the tales they tell.

Reader Reviews

Bookworm Becky 1969

Italian villa
Inevitable, writing slump, secrets… Friends since childhood, Emily and Chess, now 30ish , book an Italian villa for a summer of togetherness, inspiration, and writing. Both are writers, but of different genres of books. This same villa was ...   Read More
JHSiess

Evocative and Highly Entertaining
About The Villa, author Rachel Hawkins says "there are a lot of stories happening all at once." She describes it as being about friendships and, more specifically, female friendships and toxic relationships. It is also about writing, art, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Female Frenemies in Literature and Reality

In Rachel Hawkins's novel The Villa, childhood best friends Emily Sheridan and Chess Chandler decide to spend the summer together amid the splendor of Villa Aestas in Italy. Although the two women have fallen a bit out of touch over the years, this summer offers a chance for them to reconnect while combining work and play. But when Emily begins investigating and writing about the villa's bloody history, Chess's behavior changes, and as secrets—both past and present—are uncovered, Emily can't help but wonder if Chess is the friend she claims to be.

Although Emily and Chess initially began as friends, their relationship, as evidenced by the novel's opening line, has shifted to something closer to frenemies: ...

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Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

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