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Hill Towns

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As a small girl, Catherine Gaillard witnesses an event which irrevocably alters the rest of life: her parents, lying naked and in the throes of ecstasy atop a bridge, are accidentally run over and killed. The experience leaves young Cat traumatized, and renders her incapable of leaving her cloistered mountaintop town in Tennessee. Once she escapes to the lofty heights of Trinity College, atop Morgan's Mountain, Cat simply refuses to ever come back down, in the fear that she would be sacrificing her ability to "see danger coming." Over the years, Cat constructs a perfect, self-contained world first for herself and then for her husband, Joe, a Yankee professor at Trinity. She manages to become the hub of social activity at Trinity, as well as raise her blind daughter, Lacey, all without ever leaving the safety of her mountain. But now, thirty years later, Cat realizes her need to confront her childhood fears and venture out into the world. When Joe's star pupils, Colin and Maria, invite the Gaillards to their wedding in Rome and then to accompany them on their honeymoon through Venice, Florence, and the surrounding Tuscany, Cat decides to take them up on their offer. Armed with the wise words of her psychiatrist and friend, Corinne, as well as a healthy quantity of Valium, Cat and Joe arrive in Rome, both exhilarated and apprehensive. They immediately find themselves swept up in the high society world of Maria's aunt Ada, and her husband, Sam Forrest, the internationally renowned charismatic painter. They are joined by the libidinous television personality, Yolanda Whitney, and soon all seven are traveling together throughout Italy. But as Italy releases in Cat a feeling of strength and confidence, her newfound freedom threatens to disrupt the comfortable patterns of her marriage. When Sam, who is currently experiencing a crippling dry spell in his painting, asks if he can paint Cat's portrait as they travel, the sexual tensions mount. The once-carefree trip turns into a journey to the very heart of their relationship and identities, as Cat and Joe find themselves in the midst of the ultimate test of their love.

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