Book Review Club: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen #review

Tuscan Child book cover
The Tuscan Child
by Rhys Bowen
Adult Fiction
Lake Union, 2018

I’m a big fan of Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, so when I saw that she had written a “story within a story” one of my favorite literary devices, I had to buy the book.

The Tuscan Child takes place alternately in 1944 and 1973, and the narrators are a father and his daughter.

Hugo Langley, a British pilot, is shot down over the Tuscan countryside in December of 1944. He’s the only survivor of the plane crash, but his leg is badly injured. He is discovered by Sofia Bartoli, a young woman from the nearby village of San Salvatore. She helps him to hide in the ruins of a nearby monastery and brings him food and whatever medical supplies she can find.

Then the action moves to 1973 when Joanna Langley goes back to her ancestral home to deal with her father’s sudden death. Joanna is in a bad place herself, but grateful for the small legacy Hugo left her. Among his things she finds a letter to Sofia that was returned after war in which he declares his love for her and makes a cryptic reference to their “beautiful boy” being hidden. Intrigued and without work, she uses his legacy to travel to San Salvatore to find out what happened back in 1944. Once there, she meets Sofia’s son Renzo, but finds that the past mystery is not easily uncovered, and that someone wants it to stay buried. Someone who is willing to kill to keep his or her secrets.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt sympathy for Joanna’s predicament as well as Hugo’s. The subplot involving Paola Rossini, who rents a room to Joanna and teaches her about Italian cooking, is charming and heartwarming. And then there’s the handsome but mercurial Renzo. Can he be trusted or not?

If you enjoy Susanna Kearsley’s books, you will probably enjoy The Tuscan Child. In the end, the main villain was a bit obvious, but there was an interesting twist toward the end that I didn’t see coming. The pace is fast, the characters engrossing, and the description of both countryside and food is lovely.

(My apologies to regular readers of my blog for my absence this last month. I’m happy to report that my remodel is almost finished, and I should have more computer time in future.)


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17 thoughts on “Book Review Club: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen #review

    • Thanks, Barrie. We’re almost at the stage of moving furniture back where it belongs and hanging artwork. Lovely. Just waiting for my new sink, countertops and dishwasher. And the new front door. Amazing how long some things take to arrive.

  1. Interesting! I’m not usually a fan of the story-within-a-story, but I think I’d enjoy a father/daughter one that is told in that fashion. It’s the modern woman finds the diary/letters/whatever of a random woman who lived 60 years ago and had the exact same personal problems genre that tends to annoy me. Mostly because I tend to connect with one of the stories, but not the other. (But I’m kind of an opinionated person.)

    • I can be opinionated, too, and I don’t always like the story within a story. The Postmistress comes to mind. Very uneven blend of stories. Bowen has two strong stories that work together but don’t parallel each other.

    • Losing a parent is a tough thing to get over. Mine has been gone since 2002, but he was almost 90 when he died. It’s harder when it’s sudden and the person isn’t really old, I think. My mom’s death hit me harder. She was only 72.

  2. After my mother died my step-father gave me a box she had that contained old letters that had been saved over the years. I’ve only read a few but I learned things I hadn’t previously known (like my grandfather hitchhiked across the country when he was 19). Like everyone else parents are multilayered but kids don’t always get that and it sounds like this book has a variation on that. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for reviewing.

  3. I too like that format although if it get to complicate jumping back and forth and I get lost, not so much. I glad to get back to blogging as the war between yahoo and Google kept me out of my own two blogs. Google won though and a former student and my computer guru fought the winner and so I can now blog again. Needless to say I’m not a fan of Google. Now I see there killing your Google+ Well at least I didn’t jump to that and stuck with the old system….:( Troutbirder (Ray

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