Alyson Richman is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, The Lost Wife, The Last Van Gogh, The Rhythm of Memory (previously published as Swedish Tango) and The Mask Carver's Son. Her novels have been translated into twenty languages and "The Lost Wife" is in development to be a major motion picture. Visit her website here.
THE VELVET HOURS (2016)
As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return.
An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.
Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.
"Richman fills her novel with vibrant details, much as Marthe decorated her apartment: always with care, craft, and a sharp eye."—Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"Richman's background in art is evident on every page of this opulent story of passion and transformation."—NY Journal of Books
“Tragedy and hope, love and loss, and the strength to endure are examined through Richman’s graceful writing and powerful characters.”—Booklist
"Alyson Richman's writing sings in her evocative new novel set in Paris at the dawn of World War II. The Velvet Hours is a beautiful and compelling portrait of two women facing their unknown past and an unimaginable future as their world begins to crumble."—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Nightingale
"Alyson Richman deftly weaves fact and fiction to create an enthralling tale of love and sacrifice in The Velvet Hours. Richman slips flawlessly between time periods, her sense of place in depicting Paris in the 1880's and 1940's spot on. The reader navigates the streets of the City of Light alongside Solange and Marthe, two carefully crafted and worthy heroines. The author does a superb job of creating a Paris apartment full of exquisite treasures and a priceless painting, a world of light and shadow, beauty and darkness. Ultimately, this is a carefully wrought story of love, of what the heart chooses to give up, and what it chooses to keep. Highly recommended to readers who enjoyed Kristen Hannah's The Nightingale."—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
"A masterful mix of the glamour of the Belle Epoque and the shadows of impending war as the stories of two generations twist and twine together in delightful, heart-wrenching, and sometimes unexpected ways." —Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author
“Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heartrending, sensual, and beautifully written.”—John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author
“A book as full of treasures as the Paris apartment that inspired it....A masterful mix of the glamour of the Belle Epoque and the shadows of impending war.”—New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig
“If you love graceful, mellifluous writing, you should read this book.”—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author
Rights: Berkley, North America; Cappelen Damm, Norway; Xander, Holland; Penn, Israel
THE GARDEN OF LETTERS (2014)
Written in dazzling prose and set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.
Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.
Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussolini’s Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.
In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodie’s arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.
"Richman seamlessly weaves together the languages of music and love, reaching into the heart of the reader with artful portraits of heroism, sacrifice and redemption. Fans of The Lost Wife will again savor Richman's ability to tell a remarkable story about people who are unforgettable and real."—Pam Jenoff, International bestselling author
“The Garden of Letters demonstrates artistry of the highest order. Lyrical and compelling, Alyson Richman’s novel of a cellist coming of age in wartime Italy is as layered as a symphony. Exquisite.”—Erika Robuck, author of Fallen Beauty
“A brilliant novel that will haunt me for years to come.”—Kristina McMorris, bestselling author of The Pieces We Keep
“Alyson Richman crafts a transportive novel vivid with history and fragile with hope.”— Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“Sensual in its descriptions of the Italian countryside and the allure of music, this moving story also graphically depicts the heroism and sacrifice of wartime.”—Booklist
Rights: Berkley, North America; Cappelen Damm, Norway; Heyne, Germany; Penn, Israel; Xander, the Netherlands; Piemme, Italy; Euromedia, Czechoslovakia; Matica, Macedonia
THE LOST THE LOST WIFE (2011)
Josef Kohn is a successful New York obstetrician who still dreams of his first wife, Lenka, an art student he left behind in Czechoslovakia while fleeing the Nazis. Lenka, who he believes died during the war, continues to haunt his dreams, while his second wife, Amalia, remains more of a ghost to him than is Lenka. As we follow Lenka’s journey to the ghetto of Terezin, where she is forced to draft technical drawings for the Germans and is a witness to the secret paintings of an underground group of artists involved in their own form of resistance against their captors, we see not only the endurance of the human spirit, but also of the artist, whose desire to create and document, cannot be extinguished. From the glamourous ease of pre-War Prague, to the ensuing horror of Nazi Europe, we witness both the dawning of Lenka’s and Josef’s love affair to its tragic unravelling. Each character must forge their own path for survival and each must struggle to adapt to post-war America, while their secrets, their past, and the ghost of their first marriage, are known only to them. The Lost Wife is a story that explores the depth — the power — of first love, the resilience of the human spirit, and our capacity to remember.
I've read pretty broadly on the Holocaust--both fiction and non-fiction--and to me, The Lost Wife is one of the best. The horrors of war serve as a backdrop to a love affair that spans a lifetime, and that love story stayed with me long after I put down the book."— Lauren Weisberger, New York Times bestselling author of Devil Wears Prada
"Richman, once again finds inspiration in art, adding evocative details to a swiftly moving plot. Her descent into the horrors of the Holocaust, lends enormous power to Lenka's experience and makes her reunion with Josef all the more poignant."—Publishers Weekly
"Tragedy and hope, love and loss, and the strength to endure are examined through Richman's graceful writing and powerful characters."—Booklist
"Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heart-rending, sensual and beautifully written, Alyson Richman's The Lost Wife may well be the Sophie's Choice of this generation."—New York Times bestselling author, John Lescroart
"Daringly constructed, this moving novel begins at the end and then, a fully-realized circle through the most traumatic event of the 20th century, returns you there in a way that makes your heart leap. Richman writes with the clarity and softness of freshly-fallen snow."—Emmy winning playwright, Loring Mandel
"Begins with a chilling revelation and had me hooked throughout. A love story wrapped in tragedy and survival, I read The Lost Wife in one sitting. Tense, emotional and fulfilling: a great achievement by Alyson Richman."—Martin Fletcher, Special Correspondent NBC News, Winner of the Jewish National Book Award
"The Lost Wife is a luminous, heartbreaking novel. I was barely able to put it down and can't stop thinking about it. Not only is the writing exquisite but I have seldom seen such skill in sweeping a reader back and forth over sixty years until the journey of Josef and Lenka, both such brave and beautiful people, becomes one glorious circle of the triumph of love over evil."—Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille and Marrying Mozart
Rights: Berkley, World English; Hodder, UK; Cappelen Damm, Norway; Xander, Holland; Civilizaçao, Portugal; Piemme, Italy; Euromedia, Czech; City Editions, France; Mono&Manjana D.O.O., Serbia; Proszynski, Poland; Penn Publishing, Israel; Editora Bertrand Brasil, Portuguese; Planeta Mexico, Spanish
Film: Optioned by Waxylu Films with Jeff Waxman attached to direct
THE LAST VAN GOGH (2006)
Summer, 1890. Van Gogh arrives at Auvers-sur-Oise, a bucolic French village that lures city artists to the country. It is here that twenty-year-old Maurguerite Gachet has grown up, attending to her father and brother ever since her mother's death. And it is here that Vincent Van Gogh will spend his last summer, under the care of Doctor Gachet - homeopathic doctor, dilettante painter, and collector. In these last days of his life, Van Gogh will create over 70 paintings, two of them portraits of Marguerite Gachet. But little does he know that, while capturing Marguerite and her garden on canvas, he will also capture her heart.
Both a love story and historical novel, The Last Van Gogh recreates the final months of Vincent's life - and the tragic relationship between a young girl brimming with hope and an artist teetering on despair.
"Richman captures the flavor of the period and the nature of her characters in a story that will appeal to many."—Booklist
“This beautiful book seeks the secrets of Van Gogh’s final months.”—Vriendin Magazine
“The Last Van Gogh is a balanced symphony… Richman’s style is gentle and sober. With clear, undulating prose, that is both reminiscent of the quiet village [of Auvers] and the oppressive environment of Marguerite Gachet’s home, it is as evocative as one of Van Gogh’s paintings. Richman proves she can travel through time to recreate the past.”—Andy Arnts, En Route Magazine
Rights: Berkley, North America; Lindhardt & Ringhof, Denmark; Luitingh-Sijthoff, Holland; Artbooks, Korea; Minerva Publishing, Finland; Allers magazine (serialized), Norway; Bukowy Las, Poland; Cappelen Damm, Norway
THE RHYTHM OF MEMORY (2012, formerly SWEDISH TANGO)
In this sweeping epic, true love transcends the brutality of war.
Octavio Ribeiro loves truth, beauty, literature, and above all else, his wife Salomé. As a student in Chile, he courted her with the words of great poets, and she fell in love with his fierce intelligence and uncompromising passion. Then a sudden coup brings a brutal military dictatorship into power, and puts anyone who resists in grave danger.
Salomé begs Octavio to put his family’s safety first, rather than speak against the new regime. When he refuses, it’s Salomé who pays the price.
Belatedly awake to the reality of their danger, Octavio finds political asylum for the family in Sweden. But for Salomé, the path back to love is fraught with painful secrets, and the knowledge that they can never go home again.
"The cry of every refugee, the eerie sense of being transparent, dispensable, irrelevant, emerges powerfully from Alyson Richman's intricately plotted and touching narrative"—Wall Street Journal
"An engrossing examination of the prisons people create for themselves and the way they accustom themselves to suffering until liberation seems as painful as captivity. This is an ambitious exploration of political and personal struggles."—Publishers Weekly
"A heart-wrenching story of loss and love."—Library Journal
"Beautiful, evocative language and sense of place."—Kirkus Reviews
Rights: Atria, North America; Lindhardt & Ringhof, Denmark; Luitingh-Sijthof, Holland; dtv, Germany; Tammi/Helmi, Finland; Pegasus, Turkey
THE MASK CARVER’S SON (2000)
Set in turn of the century Japan in the world of the Noh theater, and in Paris during the heady days when French Impressionism was the avant-garde, this heartbreaking, beautifully written novel tells of a young Japanese artist who sacrifices everything: family, love and wealth for his art.
A Master Noh mask carver dedicates his life to his art, turning his back on love after a series of tragic events leaves him devastated. Kiyoki, his only son, defies his father and the demands of cultural tradition to follow his dream of becoming a painter in the western style. Kiyoki journeys to Paris, where he lives the life of an exile, unable to break the bonds of tradition, until he finds his heart leads him back to Japan, where he at last discovers himself as an artist.
“Recalls Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha . . . [Richman’s] sense of Japanese culture is subtle and nuanced.”—San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
“A long, succulent glide through two cultures.”—Bookforum
“This reverent, formal, and ambitious first novel boasts a glossy surface and convincing period detail.”—Publishers Weekly
“Richman has successfully drawn upon her historical research and her own experience . . . filled with historical detail and strong characterization.”—Library Journal
“A meticulous profile of a man struggling against his native culture, his family, and his own sense of responsibility.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Ms. Richman is a very special talent.”— Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author
Rights: Bloomsbury, North America; Allen & Unwin, Australia; dtv, Germany; Luitingh-Sijthoff, Holland; Lindhardt & Ringhof, Denmark; Hermes, Bulgaria