Read The Last Promise Online

Authors: Richard Paul Evans

The Last Promise

Table of Contents
 
 
“Beguiling. . . . Those who enjoyed
The Christmas Box
are in for another treat.”

Publishers Weekly
From the
New York Times
bestselling author and “one of the world’s most beloved storytellers”* comes a rich and all-too-human tale about the tragedy and triumph of love. . . .
In America, she was known simply as Ellen—a young woman who could only dream about love and art and passion . . . until a man came into her life, an irresistible Italian who turned her head and wanted to take her away. So she followed her heart . . . and followed him to Italy.
 
Now, living in a small rustic village, nestled in the Chianti countryside of Tuscany, she is Eliana—a mother and wife whose dream of becoming a painter has come true, but whose husband has left her disillusioned about love . . . until she meets a fellow American, a man who shares her passion for art and beauty and opens her eyes to life’s possibilities.
But Eliana is not a girl from Utah anymore. And this is not a dream about love, art, and passion. This is real. And their meeting is going to change her life forever. . . .
 
“A lush world full of Italian history and mythology. . . .
By weaving details of the wine harvest, local festival,
and vestal virgin tragedies into this story, Evans
achieves romance without overcooking it. . . . And
Eliana is truly likable . . . a sensual, sympathetic beauty
with a dry sense of humor.”
 
“Evans spins a bittersweet tale of the fantastic joy and great sorrow life can throw your way.”
—*
Idaho Press-Tribune
 
A Selection of The Doubleday Book Club
®
, The Book-of-the-Month Club
®
, and The Literary Guild
®
ALSO BY RICHARD PAUL EVANS
The Christmas Box
Timepiece
The Letter
The Locket
The Looking Glass
The Carousel
The Christmas Box Miracle
For Children
 
The Christmas Candle
The Dance
The Spyglass
The Tower
The Light of Christmas
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a Dutton edition.
First Signet Printing, October 2003
Copyright © Richard Paul Evans, 2002
Excerpt from
A Perfect Day
copyright © Richard Paul Evans, 2003 All rights reserved
Tip-in photo:
Capela Della, Val D’Orcia,
Bob Krist
Italian proverbs from
Treasury of Italian Love: Poems, Quotations & Proverbs in Italian and English
and
Dictionary of 1000 Italian Proverbs,
published by Hippocrene Books.
eISBN : 978-1-101-14396-4
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INC., 375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014.
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To Carole Baron,
con affetto
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
T
ante grazie
to the following: Laurie Chittenden, for your insight, enthusiasm and patience. It’s nice being with you again. The whole Dutton crew: Carole, Lisa, Brian, Kim and Stephanie. Thank you for welcoming me into your family. My dear friend Laurie Liss (and Kate and Timothy), for everything, as usual. Artist Steve Smulka and Dolores Libera, for sharing your hearts. Author James McBride and Stephanie McBride, for your help in relocating. (
Miracle at St. Anna
was wonderful, James.) My staff, Celeste, Krista, Lisa, Karen, Fran, Dad, Paula, Tawna and Heather. Thank you for keeping the home fires burning.
The Last Promise
would not have been possible without the assistance of my new Italy friends: Vahe and Andrea Keushguerian of Rendola—may your vineyards flourish! Enrico Marelli, with admiration. Miriam DiMarco—thank you for being so good to me. Andrea Venturini (
www.accademiarealty.com
). Luigi Tomassi, who first brought me to the villa. Andrea, Anna and Patrizio Santurro. My dear friend Maurizio Ventura (who in no way resembles the Maurizio in this book), Alberto and Maria Teresa Sottili. Laura Mongiat and the entire AISF crew. The Ferrini famly. Diane and Ugo Punteri. Steve and Mia Harper of the American Consulate in Florence. John Pitonzo,
buona fortuna
with your book. Megan and Mark at Villa Bagnolo.
Of course my
amore,
Keri, and my children: Jenna, Allyson, Abigail, McKenna and Michael. And my Italy daughter, Cammy. Thank you for embracing a new life as well as a new country. You are my reason.
And “Eliana”—the woman by the pool.
PROLOGUE
“Who has been in Italy can forget all other regions. Who has been in heaven does not desire the earth.”
—Gogol
 
 
 
 
 
I
talians think of God as a fellow countryman, and walking a gravel incline alongside a Chianti vineyard, I wonder if they might not be right. The early sun in Tuscany paints the landscape with a different palette than the rest of the world, gilding the hills and vineyard trellises in a rose-gold hue and the otherwise drab, finger-leafed olive trees in silver so that they glitter in the dawn wind like a school of herring.
It’s early in the morning, before the first bells of the San Donato Tower, quiet, except for the occasional, distant pop of rifles echoing through the Valdarno Valley. The men are out hunting
cinghiale
—the wild boar. In my wanderings through the countryside I’ve encountered neither of them, hunter nor beast. But I hear the shots fired every morning, popping like corks off wine bottles, sometimes in my dreams.

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