Fortune favours the fraud…
When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.
In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.
But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…
Omg! Omg! What an amazing, intelligent, atmospheric and beautiful book. It surrounded me like the open arms of that claustrophobic summer in Venice. I could smell the heat, the flowers, the sadness, the humid streets, and the clammy perspiration of deceit. I sound pretentious don’t I, but pretentiousness is at the heart of this book.
The so-called Dilettante, a group of posh, rich, public school educated teenagers pay £12,000 each to go on a tour of Venice, Florence and Rome, learning about art and attempting to find the inner beauty that will enhance their lives for ever. But in this group of over-privileged art students, there are two that are different. Mallory is American and Jewish. She is not really accepted by the group, including by our main protagonist Ada, who is the other odd-one-out.
Ada is really rather horrid. Having spent her childhood living in a ramshackle mansion with her mother and published-author father, she loses everything when he dies and they have to move to an ordinary home in London. Her mum finds love with Brian, an ordinary chap with an ordinary name (no Lorcans or Clemencys in their lives), but Ada can’t accept their ordinariness. She wants to be extraordinary and she desperately wants this group of Dilettantes to accept her. But they are hiding secrets and she is barely tolerated by everyone except Mallory, whose friendship she rejects.
But this book is more than that. Ada does some terrible things to be one of the right set, hiding a crime and using it to her advantage, but she also grows as a person and her development is cleverly sewn into the tapestry of the story. Brilliant, beautifully written and thought provoking. I loved it.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.
About the Author
Laura Vaughan grew up in rural Wales and studied Art History in Italy and Classics at Bristol and Oxford. She got her first book deal aged twenty-two and went on to write eleven books for children and young adults. She lives in South London with her husband and two children. The Favour is her first novel for adults.