Angela Petch comes to the blog with a story of healing, hope and heartbreak in
The Tuscan Girl
Alba has lived her life splitting time between London and Tuscany, until she retreats after her long-term boyfriend is killed and she is in need of healing, time away and a way to offload her guilt. Returning to the family home, she’s morose and everyone is worried for her. But, with time away, there is a sense of healing and opportunity – and she heads out to walk in the hills surrounding the home. Strange moments and feelings, like someone is watching her brings Alba to asking questions, some of Massimo, a local who has been invited to dinner and with his abrupt departure, has grief from the war years buried within.
Slowly but surely, Massimo sees that Alba is also grieving, and is looking for connection and to ease her grief. When she discovers a box of buried treasure, her first questions are for him. He was there during the war, he’s got stories to share and maybe more about the girl Lucia. Slowly but surely they uncover the history and share their tales, as Alba learns of the terrors and tragedies during the war, and Massimo is able to share his life and stories, and perhaps find some healing within it all.
Not a happy-go-lucky story by any measure, the mysteries and the discoveries come fast and furiously: leaving the reader often gasping for breath as Alba was, in learning of the struggles, the dangers and the retributions during the war. Slowly Massimo is able to unpack his own story and burdens, and Alba finds a sort of ‘peace’ in both his story and his survival: never quite forgetting, but the ability to put the guilt aside as the story unfolds and his place in history is shown. A lovely read that allows the reader to engage with stories from the past, told through a new form, and letting the struggles and strife of a life during war finding new hope after it all ends.
Title: The Tuscan Girl
Author: Angela Petch
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Friendship, Grief, Historic Elements, Mystery Elements, Setting: Italy, World War II
Published on: 25 February, 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 44 minutes
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She ran away through the pine trees when the soldiers came. Staggering into the hiding place, she felt a fluttering in her belly, like a butterfly grazing its wings, and knew instantly she had something to fight for.
Present day: When her fiancé is tragically killed in an accident, twenty-six-year-old Alba is convinced she’s to blame. Heavy with grief and guilt, she flees to her childhood home – the tiny village of Rofelle, nestled in a remote Tuscan valley. Out hiking one day to fill the long, lonely hours, she finds a mahogany box filled with silverware, hidden near the vine-covered ruins of an isolated house left abandoned after World War II. Could finding the rightful owner ease Alba’s heartache, and somehow make amends for her own wrongs?
In search of answers, Alba meets Massimo, an elderly man who wants to spend his final years pruning his fruit trees, alone with his painful memories. His face turns pale when Alba brings up the war, but she senses that their shared grief connects them. An unlikely friendship grows as little by little Massimo speaks of Lucia: a wild young girl with sparkling eyes who fell in love with an enemy soldier, bravely stole precious Italian treasures back from Nazi occupiers, and whose selfless courage and sacrifice altered the course of the war – and Massimo’s life.
With each visit, Alba gets closer to unravelling the mystery of the silver, and they both start putting their ghosts to rest. But there’s one part of Lucia’s story that Massimo might never be able to share – and he’s running out of time. Has Alba churned up emotions that are too painful to ever confront? Or, will unearthing a wartime secret that has lain buried for generations finally bring Massimo peace?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.