If you’ve been following my Instagram feed lately, you know I’ve been book crushing on the works of Camille Di Maio. I have a very good reason for that! Her books are beautifully written and researched in great detail. There is so much historical and architectural accuracy it is very easy to believe these stories actually happened.
A solid bonus is Camille herself is so sweet and down to earth and makes every effort to connect with her readers.
Y’all know I don’t do spoilers, but there will be a few hints at what happens in each book. So, if you plan on reading these books, finish them first then come back and we can talk about them!
The Memory of Us
This was the first book I read by Camille Di Maio and I was enchanted from the start. Mainly because I am a sucker for high society fiction and history.
The Memory of Us follows Julianne Westcott, a girl who has the world at her feet. Without giving too much away, there is a forbidden love interest. When Julianne suffers an unspeakable injury, she turns her world upside down thinking she’s saving the people she loves. In the end she sees the heartbreak she has caused.
There was so much I loved about this book. Of course the plot is perfection but the accuracy of the background was spot on. Camille did a wonderful job, even documenting the King and Queen and the birth of Prince Charles. Not a lot of authors pay as close attention to detail and that is really what sets Camille apart.
I went from reading a couple chapters a day to one hundred pages at a time. I would soon find out that all of Camille’s works have this effect on me.
My favorite characters from the book were Kyle McCarthy (who stayed loyal to his vocation until the end), and Mrs. Bailey. Mrs. Bailey, for me, was the brightest spot during the darkest times of the book. The injury and the reunion. While the reunion was beautiful, it showed how much life Julianne missed because of her decision.
Discussion question: If you’ve read the book, did you like Julianne Westcott or Helen Bailey more and why?
Before the Rain Falls
I could tell half way through the book Camille had given this book so much of herself. Again, she paid amazing attention to detail. I honestly started this book kind of expecting the same thing I got out of The Memory of Us. I could not have been more wrong in my expectations. I don’t know where Camille gets her inspiration but this book astounded me.
When I finished this book, I posted it to my Instagram story and Camille replied saying “It took a lot out of me to write this and it’s very dear to me.” As it well should be!
Sometimes really strange coincidences happen when you read and I totally love it when that happens. If you remember my post on Eat, Pray, Love I barely even talked about the book, but about a strange coincidence that happened while I read it. This book also holds something magical that happened but you will have to wait until the end of my review to find out what it is.
The main character, Della, is in prison for murdering her sister. Della’s life was one heartbreak after another. Her mother abandoned the family, he father died, she killed her sister, she was convicted of murder hours after her wedding, she was raped, her daughter died and the list goes on and on. The story comes around full circle much as The Memory of Us did. Towards the end I was releasing audible gasps as I read!
There were two times this book absolutely broke my heart. The first time was when Della was raped. I had to put my book down for a while. The injustice of it all and realizing that what these women who were in prison were subject to during this time period (1940’s) was a little more than I was prepared to handle. The second time was the prison rodeo and again, the treatment of the prisoners.
The heartbreak from the The Memory of Us and Before the Rain Falls builds that connection to characters. My favorite character was Cristina. I loved her because she reminded me of my own grandmother.
The book is set in Texas and though I live in South Carolina, I could easily relate to the humid, hot days that Camille describes. Another fun fact about me, Mexican food is my favorite food and Camille had my mouth watering with her spot on descriptions of traditional Mexican eats! 🤤 I also have been craving a milkshake from Lonhill Drug, I don’t care if it takes Mr. Salazar twenty minutes to prepare it!
I breezed through the last fifty pages when I got home from work one day. I usually take my book and sit on my patio. Just as I closed the book, raindrops started falling and I could hear the thunder start to roll.
Discussion question: How do you think Della mentally willed herself to cope with all of her losses and heartbreaks?
The Way of Beauty
I started reading The Way of Beauty on May 11th- my birthday. This book hit really close to home with me. I related to Alice so much.
Vera is Alice’s mother and she tries to raise her best friends son as her own to get him away from a terrible family situation. My own mother took in children all the time from bad family situations. Some of them stayed with us for years. I was the only one that she was fully able to adopt but I listened for years to her heartbreak at losing the others.
Angelo is Alice’s father and he lost his leg in the war. My father lost his leg to diabetes and I could vividly see the struggles Angelo would have as I am familiar to them. Alice’s grandfather lives with them and has suffered from the bends most of his life due to helping build the underground train system of New York. My father worked in a factory most of his life and suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As I read about the fear and forgetting of Alice’s grandfather, I again thought of my own father.
Alice is torn between two lovers. She finally decides who she wants to be with although the decision was sort of made for her. With one lover she has passion and with one she has purpose. I was on the winners side the entire time but I knew he was right for her only because of my past experiences. So once again, I could relate to her.
The book being set around the suffragette movement and the rights of women while incorporating Nazis in America provides lots of room for twists you just did not see coming. There is a startling comparison between people and architecture here, in which Camille has again done an amazing job in describing.
As I started this post, I was going to tell you what the book defines as the way of beauty, but I think I’ll let you explore it for yourself!
Discussion question: Do you think Alice chose the right man? Why or why not?
Follow this link to go buy all of these wonderful books by Camille Di Miao!
Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram @cammiledimiao_author
Thanks for reading,