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Lake Como, 1906: love and intrigue in a bestseller of the 1950’s

Madame Solario is a novel set at a fashionable Italian resort on Lake Como in September 1906. First appeared in 1956 without an author attribution, it soon became a best­seller both the U.S. and U.K.

Here’s the incipit:
“In the early years of the century, before the first world war, Cadenabbia on the lake of Como was a fashionable resort for the month of September. Its vogue was easy to explain. There was the almost excessive beauty of the winding lake surrounded by the mountains, the shores gemmed with golden­yellow villages and classical villas standing among cypress trees; and the head of the lake lay close to the routes that connected Italy with all the capitals of Western and Central Europe, yet Cadenabbia itself was difficult to reach, which was an added charm. Long stretches of the lovely shore were without high road or traffic of any kind, and one arrived by the little steamboat that started in Como and shuttled back and forth across the lake, calling at one dreaming place after another in a journey of incredible slowness. It was wonderful to arrive. As no wheel ever passed, there were no sounds except human voices, the click of peasants’ wooden clogs and the lapping of the waves. One heard from balconies, “Isn’t this stillness delicious? Ah, que ce calme est esquis!”

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