Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the release of Belladonna by Anbara Salam! Thank you to Berkley Publishing for the invitation! Stay tuned for information on how to win a copy at the bottom of this post!

About the Book:

An evocative, atmospheric story of friendship and obsession set in the 1950s that follows two schoolgirls from Connecticut whose lives are changed forever when they travel to a silent convent in northern Italy to study art for a year

Isabella is beautiful, inscrutable, and popular. Her best friend, Bridget, keeps quietly to the fringes of their Connecticut Catholic school, watching everything and everyone, but most especially Isabella.

In 1957, when the girls graduate, they land coveted spots at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Pentila in northern Italy, a prestigious art history school in the grounds of a silent convent. There, free of her claustrophobic home and the town that will always see her and her Egyptian mother as outsiders, Bridget discovers she can re-invent herself as anyone she desires.

Only Isabella knows the real Bridget, just as Bridget knows the true Isabella. But as that glittering year goes on, Bridget begins to suspect Isabella is keeping secrets from her, secrets that will ruin all of her plans and that will change the course of their lives forever.

My Thoughts:

I love a coming-of-age story! Belladonna is the tale of two friends living in Connecticut in the 1950s. They move to Italy to study art while living in a convent.

They are the yin and yang of friends. Isabella is the outgoing, popular one, while the reserved Bridget is often in her shadow.

It is there, at the convent, that Bridget opens up and finds herself, feeling more comfortable in who she is. Somewhere along the way, Bridget discovers Isabella is keeping some dark secrets, and it’s unclear how they could affect them both.

Salam transports the reader to Italy in the 1950s. Bridget is truly at the center of this novel, and she is of Egyptian heritage, which she hides,  something she’s feels judged for constantly. She wants nothing more than to fit in, and Isabella takes advantage of her, while Bridget continues to obsess over Isabella and their friendship.

Overall, I found Belladonna to be an angsty, emotional coming-of-age story. I wanted more for Bridget, and I was along for the ride, rooting for her.

I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Anbara Salam is half-Palestinian and half-Scottish, and grew up in London. She has a PhD in Theology and now lives in Oxford.

Have you read Belladonna, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR