An Old Fashioned Love Story – Literally


Destination: Italy (14th Century)

Book: Waterfall, the River of Time triology by by Lisa T. Bergren (Young Adult)

By Jennifer Close

Imagine finding a portal that takes you back to 14th century Italy where you are immediately immersed in a battle between gallant knights and their fierce enemies. This is exactly what happened to modern day teenager, Gabriella, when she and her sister were exploring where they weren’t supposed to be in Waterfall, the first book of the River of Time trilogy by Lisa T. Bergren.

Awhile back, I was at home sick and trying to find something new to put on my eReader when I saw the first book of the series was on special and free for download. After teaching high school for years, I love Young Adult fiction so of course I downloaded it. I was hooked after the first chapter and finished the book in less than a day.

Gabriella realizes that she did in fact travel back in time and she also realizes that she lost her sister in the process. She embarks on a journey to locate her sister but at the same time discovers not only a little bit more of herself but she also finds love. What I liked most about Gabriella was that she is a strong female character. She has all the typical characteristics of a teenage girl swooning over a boy (a mighty fine looking one at that!) but at the same time she is confident, strong-willed, and resourceful when it comes to finding her way around an Italy of the past. She can appreciate a beautiful gown one minute and can wield a sword the next. Every once in awhile, I felt like it was a little far-fetched that Gabi, for the most part, fit in to the 14th century so quickly and easily but it is a book about time travel after all!

Italy has never really been high on the list of countries that I want to visit even though some of my favorite books are set there. A few years ago, we went to Germany and Austria to see as many Christmas Markets as we could during a two week period…ok, as many Christmas Markets as I could see! We were based in Garmisch, Germany just a few hours north of Italy so we had planned a quick day trip over the Italian border but had to cancel it due to weather. It didn’t really bother me too much. But after reading about Gabi’s adventures, I think I am ready to plan a trip to Italy now and learn more about the history of the country.

Siena Italy Fountain of Gaia with fence
Siena Italy Fountain of Gaia with fence

“But the Fonte Gaia of Siena, a simple rectangle, ornately carved of marble, did not demand undue attention. It allowed the public square itself to sing, like a box seat in the best part of a stadium,” says Gabi. After reading this description of the Gaia Fountain, I hopped online to see pictures of it. What an interesting fountain it is! The Gaia Fountain, or Fountain of Joy, is a rectangular shaped basin that has three sides adorned with reliefs and is surrounded by an iron fence. I can only imagine what Gaia Fountain looked like to Gabi as she looked at it shortly after its construction without that fence surrounding it.

Siena Italy Fountain of Gaia
Siena Italy Fountain of Gaia

This series does fall under the Christian fiction category as Gabi struggles with her faith and her responsibilities to her family. It is subtle so if you are not used to reading Christian fiction it isn’t in your face. As a mother and former teacher who would share this book with teenagers, I liked that it was a good clean romance with nothing too racy.  This book may also get your teenager thinking about the possibility of travel to Italy.

For me, the worst part about this book was when it ended. It was a fun young adult read that left me wanting more and I enjoyed the second two books, Cascade and Torrent, just as much as the first. I can only hope that Ms. Bergren decides to continue Gabi’s story.

Disclaimers:  It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to disclose affiliate links. All links to the book titles in this post are links through A Traveler’s Library affiliation with Amazon. If you buy something through those links, you will be helping A Traveler’s Library pay the billls. THANKS!  All photos used here are from Flickr with a Creative Commons license. Please click on the photos to learn more. 

Jennifer and family
Jennifer and family

Now it is the Reader’s turn: If you have teens in the family–do you think that books about foreign places might persuade them to travel? When you were younger what books influenced your wanderlust?

And perhaps most important of all, what can we say to persuade Jennifer that she MUST go to Italy??



About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

21 thoughts on “An Old Fashioned Love Story – Literally

  1. Thank you so much for the comments and the words encouraging me to put Italy on my travel list. I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Italy is definitely on my radar now!

  2. Vera, you’ve just gotta go to Italy! I love France (Paris!! Burgundy!! the Dordogne !!!) I love Ireland (going soon!) I love England and Holland and …

    But truly, there is no place more beautiful than Italy. No other place where history surrounds you all the time as it does in Italy. No place where the people are more outgoing, fascinating and sometimes beautiful



    1. Libbie – I must admit that after all of the encouraging comments, I have moved Italy closer to the top of my list of places I would like to visit!

  3. I love young adult fiction & so I think I would love this particular book. I’ve been to Italy and it does get under your skin- I’m going to download this book …thanks for introducing it!

    1. Connie – Please let me know what you think and which character you liked best when you finish the book. I definitely found myself liking one character in particular!

    1. I would love to know what you think about the book when you finish! YA is one of my favorites too and I can’t get enough. On my eReader right now, probably half the books fall in the YA category.

  4. Do you think it would appropriate as a read-aloud family book for younger children? (4-7 age range?) or are there too many cultural references for them to understand? (Because the series sounds really good!)

    1. I would say no to a family book – I read them and it just doesn’t seem that type. While the story is set in Italy, it’s more of a romance – not something little kids get into 🙂

      It’s a great story though and when they’re older they will love it!

    2. Hi Laura! Thanks for your question. I think that the first book might be okay to read aloud to the older part of that age group but I will say that there is a lot of high school angst and interest in boys. There are a few battle scenes (though they aren’t horribly gory) too so, depending on your children, it might be better to wait a few more years. I don’t think that I would read the story to my elementary school children…maybe in middle school?

  5. What a nice review. I don’t read YA and don’t have any teens who would either, but I LOVE Italy and love to read books set there. 🙂 I’ve been to Italy several times, the last in Oct when I stayed 6 weeks in a rented apartment in Florence and took side trips from there. One of the trips was north, near the Austrian border. I was surprised to see that part of Italy is still clinging to it’s Austrian heritage. In fact, most people in the area prefer to speak German rather than Italian. With its mountain vistas and snow capped peaks, the landscape is vastly different tha the rest of Italy. Beautiful for sure, but nothing like Tuscany or southern Italy. So, Jennifer, it’s probably a good thing you didn’t cross the border into Italy. You wouldn’t have seen the real Italy. 🙂

    This series sounds like a lot of fun for teens…and a great idea for those interested in travel…to Italy in particular. In fact, I think I will have to read it myself. 🙂

    1. Six weeks? That sounds heavenly! It is interesting to read your perspective of the northern part of Italy. We weren’t planning to cross too far over the border so I guess I wouldn’t have gotten much of a taste. Planning for the next trip though!

  6. Siena looks like a wonderful place to do a little time traveling. All those wonderful medieval buildings! And I do hope that books like this ignite a spark of travel lust in the young people who read them (and Jennifer, too.)

    1. I must admit that I am more and more interested in planning a trip now that I have read all of the comments encouraging it. Verona has always been on my list of places to go as well as Vienna. Just not high up the list…I will have to remedy that!

  7. Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing about my series! I had a ball going to Italy for research…and for pure enjoyment. But don’t go until you’re ready to fall in love. It gets under your skin. Now we can’t wait to go back. Both my daughters got to go with me for research trips–and fell in love too!

    I think this series would be SO fun for any teen or fan of YA fiction heading to Italy, in particular Rome, Siena and Florence.

    1. Lisa – Thank you so much for replying to this comment. It is such an honor that you stopped by! I adore the characters in Waterfall and hope that you might see a future for them in books to come! New Orleans is one of those cities that I feel gets under your skin so I know exactly what you are talking about. I am going to have to plan a trip to Italy soon, I guess!

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