The Tuscan Child
by Rhys Bowen
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.)
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.
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