Exotic beauty Alba Arbuckle lives from moment to moment and goes from lover to lover, with no concern for the future -- until she discovers a drawing of her dead mother, Valentina. The portrait sparks her curiosity about the mother she has never known. Her father is tight-lipped about Valentina, so Alba decides to go to Italy in hopes of meeting her mother's family.

Alba quickly discovers that her mother was a very complicated woman with many painful secrets. As she uncovers the sad truth about her, Alba re-examines her own life and begins the search for her own personal happiness.

This is a beautifully written story with wonderful imagery. Alba's transformation from a flighty, self-centered girl into a caring, sensitive woman is told very well. (May, 416 pp., $9.75)
Reviewed by: 
Nasha Kanai