Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 20th February 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley
|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.
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.