4-Star Reviews, Books & Reviews

‘Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel’, by James Markert: Book Review

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything from these links, I may receive a small fee, at no extra cost to you.

Star rating:★★★★✰

Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book inspired by mythology, legend, or folklore


Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is a story that deals with the question of whether quality of life is a better choice than quantity of life, and how our memories can help us come to terms with our past.


Vitto is a returning WWII soldier suffering from PTSD. His young son doesn’t remember him, his wife, Valerie, is scared of his violent outbursts, and his father, Robert,  is suffering from Alzheimer’s, becoming a shell of the great sculptor he used to be.

When Robert goes missing, Vitto and his wife know where to look first: the run-down Tuscany Hotel that Robert and his wife, Magdelena, built together years before as a haven for artists and creative minds to use as a retreat.

When they find Robert at the hotel, he has regained his memories, telling them that the fountain water can cure a broken mind like his. Soon, the hotel is flooded with people suffering from memory issues, and their families, looking for a way to restore their minds and their lives.

But drinking the water comes at a cost, and Robert, Vitto, and the rest of the Tuscany Hotel residents must decide whether getting their lives back is worth the price.

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is available to buy on Amazon

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it.

It has a slow beginning, and not very likeable characters. Obviously, it’s understandable that Vitto is angry and unpredictable, he’s just come back from war, and his family has completely changed since he left. His son is older than the baby he left behind and barely recognises him. And his father has lost his once sharp mind, unable to feed or clean himself.

But after the first couple of chapters, and once we’re introduced to the Tuscany Hotel, this story really begins, and the slower pace starts to work in its favour. I don’t always like slow burners, I’ve said it before that I prefer to have a book keep me on edge and up all night reading. But this book would never have worked if it was faster. The slow pace adds to the tranquillity and relaxing atmosphere of the Tuscany Hotel and pulls you deep into the character’s lives.

The beautiful writing and lyrical language also pull you right in.

The descriptions of the hotel and its surroundings almost make the setting a character in itself. The colours jump off the page and make everything all the more life-like.

I’m someone who isn’t usually a fan of long descriptions any more than I’m a fan of a slow pace, but the way Markert uses words to create atmosphere and set the scene is so beautiful it’s hard to be bored by it.

The backdrop of Greek mythology was one of my favourite things about the story.

I love a bit of mythology, and I think it’s interesting to read about the mythology of other countries. I don’t know a lot about Greek mythology (mostly what I learned from Disney’s Hercules as a kid, and I don’t know how accurate that was), so I enjoyed hearing all of the stories that Magdelena told Vitto as a kid, who then subsequently tells his own son as a way of bonding with him.

(Side note: one of my favourite parts of this book was when Vitto is telling his son, William, the story of Cronus eating his children, William’s response was ‘Eat ‘em in bites like a cookie? Or in one pop like an olive?’ That made me laugh so much!).

I’ve read a few other people’s thoughts on this book, and it seems to be agreed that Markert got the mythology spot-on, so I’m happy it was one of the things that I enjoyed.

I should know by now not to judge a book I haven’t read …

… yet I still do it.

There are elements of this book that would be considered magic-realism, and thankfully I only realised this after I started reading and was already absorbed.

I’ve read two books previously that are considered part of the magic-realism genre (or at least part-considered). The first is Love in the Time of Cholera which I hated. So much so that I didn’t even bother finishing it, and it takes a lot for me not to finish a book.

The second was The Hoarder by Jess Kidd, and I’m ashamed to say that seeing a comment on the book cover about its magic-realism elements put me off it, and I didn’t enjoy that book as much as I was expecting. I can’t say for definite that it was because of the genre, but I definitely went into the book with a negative feeling, mostly based on the fact that I hated Love in the Time of Cholera so much.

I judged that book by its cover.

So I am so glad that nowhere in the blurb for Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel did it say anything about magic-realism because it definitely would have put me off and I might not have enjoyed this book as much as I did.

So if this book gave me nothing else, it at least made me remember not to be so judgemental about genres, and to maybe give magic-realism another go (just not Love in the Time of Cholera).

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel is available from Thomas Nelson and Amazon

If you liked Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel, you might also like:

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, or
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

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