© 2019 by Anna Hayward

  • Twitter App Icon

La Bella Figura a brief summary


A hymn to the enduring power of love - both mystical and physical, La Bella Figura is set against the political upheaval of Fascism and the power of the Catholic Church in 1920s/30s Italy.

Separated by these twin forces, Maria and Peppe's longing for one another never leaves them but their lives mirror the dilemmas of the era. When they are reunited, they have to confront the consequences of the choices they have made.

This debut novel is a story of faith but also the strength and journey of an independent woman, Maria, in a world and era dominated by men.

What early readers have said:

"A genuinely enjoyable read in the same way as the other books I took on holiday with me - William Boyd's Sweet Caress and Ian McEwan's The Child in Time. It bore a very sound comparison."

"You’ve created a world that I felt fully a part of and which had me living through Peppe, Maria and their fellow characters. It’s a gorgeous, multi-layered novel with real emotional depth, and to write something like that is quite an achievement."

"I thought this was a very convincing love story with real passion and drama driving the parting and rediscovery of each other for Peppe and Maria. I think you convey the emotion - both the pain and the happiness - in the central relationship very effectively, particularly from Maria's perspective. You use the historical context and your deep knowledge of it, very carefully to your advantage, allowing the story to touch on politics, religion and the effects of war with a clear confidence."


"A very feminine book - in a good way - the internal thoughts and intimate physical experiences. Maria is a strinkingly powerful woman from a humble background."

"A good sustained level of tension about when and how Peppe and Maria will eventually meet again and what will happen when they do."