The Italian Quarter (2004)

Sophie Richmond is only a quarter Italian yet this quarter has dominated her life in the person of her charismatic grandfather Cesare. Then a journalist starts asking questions about Cesare’s war record and Sophie embarks on a journey into the past which takes her from nineteenth century Naples to London’s Italian quarter and one of the war’s forgotten tragedies. Along the way she also learns something very important about herself…

The Italian Quarter was shortlisted for the Pendleton May First Novel Award.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Italian Quarter autobiographical?

The character of Cesare is loosely based on my father Felice. Like Cesare, my dad was a racing driver and was interned on the Isle of Man. The modern bits, including (sadly) the sex scenes, are all fictional.

Cesare supports Mussolini. How can you then portray him as a sympathetic character?

A lot of London Italians did support Mussolini. After facing prejudice in England they saw him as a strong leader who restored their self-respect. Mussolini certainly did put himself out to woo the Italians in exile and, in the main, he succeeded. When Mussolini needed gold for his Abyssinian campaign, hundreds of London Italians had their gold wedding rings melted down. This was called the giornata delle fedi – the day of the wedding rings.

Do you feel Italian or English?

The honest answer is both. Unfortunately, in England, people seem to expect you to choose one side or the other. In America, it is perfectly acceptable to call yourself Italian-American there’s not even a word for it in English. Britalian? I feel both Italian and English, though I always support Italy in football.

Who is the father of Sophie’s baby?

You’ll have to decide for yourself, though I have a sneaking suspicion that the baby will have red hair.

Will there ever be a sequel?

Maybe one day. I think Sophie and Antonio may go to live in Italy and will discover that it is not quite what they expected...


“A larger-than-life story centred on a British Italian family. A wonderful depiction of a noisy ebullient clan”
Sue Baker Publishing News

“For anyone who loved Lucia, Lucia, or who comes from a large family or has loved Italy, Domenica de Rosa’s debut novel is a warm and satisfying story of Italian immigrants to London…a heart-warming tale of family and loyalty, of learning to accept and of love found in the most unexpected places.”
The Book Club of Ireland

“A charming tale of family secrets, lost trust and learning to forgive”
Good Book Guide

“A fascinating story vividly told, this is a classic page-turner”
Italia magazine

“A fascinating account of Italian life, written with skill and insight”
Katie Fforde

“de Rosa explores one of the war’s forgotten histories and movingly evokes the immigrant experience of thirties London.”
Brighton Evening Argus

“The memories of Cesare’s childhood interwoven with Sophie’s attempts to control her love life, together with the feel of the large Italian family with their exuberance, closeness and arguments, all combine for an undemanding and enjoyable read.”
Paperback Directory

Want to buy this book? - Amazon link here

Some Amazon quotes

'I found this book hard to put down, I slipped right into the story particularly enjoying the close-knit Italian family. The Italian Quarter is easy to read, fresh and exciting and I just didn't want it to end.'

'De Rosa's book includes some unexpected surprising incidents and thruths throughout, keeping the reader hanging on to every word. This is a brilliant first novel and I look forward to her next! She is an inspired writer!'

The Eternal City (2005)

Gaby’s father dies on the day her baby is born. In the emotional aftermath of the funeral, it emerges that her father has asked that his ashes be taken back to Rome, where he was born. Unfortunately, every family member has a different idea where the ashes should be scattered. Older sister Anna insists on a religious ceremony, New-Age Maria wants a pagan ritual and grandson Mario suggests the football stadium. So, with a new baby in tow, Gaby accompanies her bickering family to Rome. And, at the airport, she is met by the man she once wanted to marry. The only problem is that he is now a Catholic priest…

Frequently asked questions

Are Anna and Maria based on anyone in real life?

Well, just like Gaby, I have two sisters but they are not very much like Anna and Maria. The parts where the sisters lust after the golden boys are really based on childhood memories of summers in Brighton spent with my two best friends, Nancy and Anita.

What about the father, Enzo?

Cesare in The Italian Quarter was based on the harsher side of my father. Enzo is probably his softer side – the side that always said yes to everything.

The Catholic Church does not come out of this book very well. Is this intentional?

I don’t know about that. Jonathan is certainly not an ideal boyfriend but I think he’s a pretty good priest. And Gaby does decide that she is, deep-down, a Catholic, as well as an Arsenal supporter…

Are you a football supporter, like Gaby?

Yes. I’m a loyal supporter of my local team, Brighton and Hove Albion. I remember the day we got to the FA cup final in 1983 as one of the best of my life. And this was only a year after Italy had won the World Cup for the third time. Perfect.

Why did you make Gaby an Arsenal supporter?

Because a lot of Italians (my father included) support Arsenal. I’m not entirely sure why…

Why did you give Gaby a young baby?

I wanted to write about life after birth. Like Gaby I loved my job but, when I had children, I couldn’t bear to leave them and go back to work. Nevertheless, it was a real wrench. I think it’s an impossible thing to get right.


“This is a delightfully warm and tenderly observed novel about the love and rivalry between three sisters, a family turning full circle and a woman finding her way back home.”
The Bookworm

“Witty and as light as a tiramisu but with tart insight on sibling rivalry.”
Nottingham Evening Post

“A charming and warm novel about families and secrets…fans of The Italian Quarter will not be disappointed.”
Brighton Evening Argus

“How to visit Italy without leaving home…”
The Good Book Guide

Want to buy this book? - Amazon link here

Some Amazon quotes

'I read this novel on a recent trip to Rome. I must say that it made the trip all the better! The book sensitively deals with the subject of a father's death and really warms the heart. This has to be one of my favourite reads this year.'