The Tuscan Childby Published 20 Feb 2018
|The Tuscan Child.pdf|
|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…
In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.
Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.
Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…
The Tuscan Child Reviews
*3.5 stars rounded up.
In December, 1944, Hugo Langley is a young British pilot who is forced to parachute from his burning plane over Italy. Hugo has received a leg wound and is sure he will soon die until a young Tuscan woman comes to his aid.
Nearly thirty years later, his daughter Joanna is sorting through his papers after his death when she discovers an old sealed letter addressed to an Italian woman named Sofia. A letter that is marked "Not known at this address. Return to Sender." It is a love letter in which Hugo says "I want you to know that our beautiful boy is safe. He is hidden where only you can find him." Joanna is stunned--did her father have a child with an Italian woman during the war? If so, was that child ever returned safely to his mother?
Since her own life is currently in shambles, Joanna decides to travel to San Salvatore in Tuscany, Italy to see if she can piece together the past. No one there remembers a wounded British pilot during the war but soon a man is found murdered and Joanna becomes the chief suspect.
A nice blend of the past and present (1973) reveals an interesting story. Perhaps the ending is a bit too pat, hence the drop in stars, but it is a heart-warming story filled with descriptions of delicious-sounding Italian meals and pleasant, welcoming villagers.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Rhys Bowen and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read an arc of this new book in exhange for an honest review.
Netgalley # 25
Many thanks go to Rhys Bowen, Lake Union, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
In the Tuscan Child Rhys Bowen has written a novel with a dual time line. One part is set in Tuscany during World War 11 time, where Hugo - an English pilot is forced to eject from his damaged plane. Badly injured he is helped by Sofia - a local young woman. She hides him in bombed monastery and carries food to him when she can.
As well we meet Joanna - Hugo's daughter, in 1973 returning home to Langley Hall on the sudden death of her father. She finds some items amongst his things that lead her on a journey to Tuscany to find answers to her questions. From her we receive a picture of Hugo as an old defeated man, out of touch with his daughter. Yet in the mid 1940's we see a completely different Hugo.
Mystery surrounds what went on in that small village during the war, how did Hugo and Sofia not end up together? The town has one story but is that correct? Joanna finds welcome from some in the village but not from others. Her hostess is lovely and soon has her sampling all kinds of wonderful Tuscany cooking. Yet there seems to be something not quite right going on, a bad force at work.
While Joanna finds the son of Sofia still alive - Renzo, it takes awhile for him to warm to her, however soon they are working together to find the answers Joanna is seeking about her father and his cryptic note he tried to send Sofia.
I enjoyed the Tuscany setting and the description of the food and people. Sofia was a warm, courageous young woman, Hugo a man changed by her, Joanna a daughter kept somewhat at arm's length but still with a connection to her father, that makes her determined to find out what went on here in San Salvatore during the war. And the day of reckoning for some is about to take place.
When Joanna Langley is cleaning out the house of her father after his unexpected death in the English countryside, she comes acrosss a sealed letter. Having beeen stranged for a few years, Joanna realizes how little she knew about him and his past as an English airman in the RAF. The letter is adressedd to Sofia Bertoli and in it there is information that unsettles her. Not being able to contain her desire to know, Joanna takes off to the village of San Salvatore, the address on the envelope. In her attempt to find the truth about her father, she will embark on a personal journey of her own.
I love the premise of this novel. The cover is beautiful. A mix of a historical book with romance and some mystery, this seemed like a book that I would love. But alas, I do not. With a dual narration, that of Joanna and her father Hugo, this novel takes place in 1973 and 1944 respectively. Hugo Langley was a pilot for the RAF and while flying over Tuscany, his plane was hit. Hugo managed to save himself by jumping off with his parachute. But he sustained a serious injury upon landing in a German-controlled area. Luckily for Hugo, he was found by Sofia Bertoli, a local woman who then comes to his aid and helps conceal him. Growing up Joanna knew his father was in the war and was able to return back home but she never knew the details. Thus as Joanna heads for San Salvatore, she hopes to learn of this facet of her father. Once in the village, she meets an array of characters, from the kind woman who rents her a room to the man that seems to control the whole village with his money. While everyone denies having known about her father, Joanna feels something is off. This notion is futher reinforced when a man is found dead.
In the end, this book was nice but not outstanding. There was just something missing. Even with a murder, there was a lack of suspense. I had a hard time believing that events unfolded in the time frame and order in which they did. And the ending? It was just too neat and perfect. Again, hard to believe. The characters were one note and predictable. I did find all those Italian and English countryside vignettes lovely and the food descriptions were a nice touch. I found myself really craving risotto and stuffed zucchini flower. As a historical novel though, it did not deliver. It was not memorable for me, this book. I read quite a bit regarding WWII and this novel was underwhelming.
Thank you so much Little Bird Publicity and Lake Union Publishing for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it is a quick and easy read with two very compelling storylines. The chapters alternate between Hugo’s life in 1944 as a bomber pilot, and his daughter, Joanna, dealing with the aftermath of his death in 1973. Joanna is sorting through her estranged late father’s possessions when she comes across a mysterious letter addressed to a woman named Sofia in San Salvatore, Italy. The letter gives Joanna a glimpse to a side of her father she’s never known so she decides to take a trip to Italy to understand her father better by revisiting his past and possibly finding Sofia.
The novel is a perfect blend of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. Above all, the best part of this reading experience is Italy itself. One of my favorite aspects of reading historical fiction are the vivid descriptions of beautiful settings and this did not disappoint. The story is atmospheric with rich, warm, countryside vignettes, and descriptions of Italian culture. Bowen writes a wonderful story with great character development that kept me engaged. My only issue is with the ending. It didn’t quite work for me, but overall I enjoyed the story.