Castle of Whispers

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When Sofia Parker is presented with a valuable heirloom trunk on the eve of her grandmother's funeral, she is stunned.  She never thought she'd be chosen as the next guardian.  For generations, the trunk and the precious silk quilt hidden inside it have been protected by the women of her family - all highly skilled in the art of needlework and worthy of the honor.

But Sofia, a 41-year-old mother of four, still struggles to thread a needle in less than ten tries and limits her sewing to buttons and patches.  And yet Sofia's grandmother chose her.

Tales about the priceless quilt have been spun at every family gathering for as long as Sofia can remember.  But no one ever mentioned the diary hidden within its folds, recorded by her great-grandmother in 1913.  Rich with history, the words of the diary reveal the fascinating story behind each piece of the quilt's tapestry and the women whose lives it touched.

One story in particular catches Sofia's eye - the one that claims to know the true identity of the Mona Lisa.  According to the diary, a swatch of her dress was stitched into the quilt.  Sofia's ancestor Caterina Vasari, a talented seamstress, was said to be a friend of the famed model and knew why her true identity had been kept secret.  The diary weaves a captivating tale of family secrets, opulent castles, clandestine romance, and a shocking mystery.  But can it possibly be true?  If so, it would mean the heirloom quilt is worth millions!

With a little help from her friends in the Pinot Painters art group, Sofia sets out to learn the truth.  But it soon becomes clear that someone with ill intent is interested in her research and in getting their hands on the quilt.  Will her grandmother's cryptic warning that danger is coming become a reality?

The Characters

Sofia Parker is a stay-at-home mom with four children. She loves to paint and she really enjoys baking confectionery masterpieces on the side. One day she hopes to combine these two talents into a business of her own. But she lacks confidence, often feeling overshadowed by her two older sisters and father -- all three hold advanced degrees in the sciences.

But as Sofia loses herself in researching the compelling stories of her ancestors -- other female guardians of the same heirloom quilt -- she begins to feel a connection with her roots ... and is filled with a whole new confidence in her personal identity and creative potential.

Jim Parker, Sofia's husband, is 42, tall, lean and has thick blond hair and blue eyes. He is a math teacher at Cabot Falls High School. He is also a kind man who loves his family and is supportive of Sofia's desire to use her creative talents and open her own business.

Elena is Sofia's late grandmother. Because Sofia's mother died when she was little, Elena was very much the maternal figure in the lives of her grandchildren. Elena surprised everyone by bequeathing the priceless heirloom trunk and quilt to Sofia. But Nonna never did anything without a reason. What old secrets did she hope Sofia would uncover?

Caterina Vasari, 17, and her mother, Vedette, are seamstresses known for their fine smocking, embroidery and beadwork. Caterina is also an aspiring artist. They live together in a house on the village square of Ponte San Vincenti just outside of Florence.

Caterina tries to bear the brunt of the intricate stitching work because her mother has advanced rheumatism. They need both of their incomes to survive, and they especially need the income from the two gowns they have been commissioned to create for Lisabetta, the daughter of the esteemed Donati family.

Caterina is secretly in love with an apprentice winemaker at the Donati's family vineyard and hopes one day to marry him.

Caterina is a direct ancestor of Sofia.

Lisabetta is 16, well-bred, strikingly gorgeous ... and miserable, because her father is forcing her to marry a repulsive nobleman. Her true love is the handsome Gianni Medici ... and Lisabetta wishes she had the courage to defy her Father.

Bertrando is Lisabetta's fiance. He's cruel, foul and more than twice her age. But he is also wealthy. Lisabetta's father is selling her into this marriage solely to shore up the family's dwindling finances.

Handsome and young, Gianni is the secret true love of Lisabetta Donati. He says he will do anything to be with her ... but does that include murder?