#WWWWednesday – 7th April 2021


Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too?  Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!

Currently reading

The Final Revival of Opal & NevThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton (proof copy, courtesy of Quercus)

An idol of Afro-punk. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything.

The Metal HeartThe Metal Heart by Caroline Lea (eARC, courtesy of Michael Joseph via NetGalley)

Orkney, 1940. On a remote island, a prisoner-of-war camp is constructed to house five hundred Italian soldiers.

Upon arrival, a freezing Orkney winter and divided community greets them. Orphaned sisters Dorothy and Constance volunteer to nurse the men. Dot is immediately drawn to Cesare, a young man fighting on the wrong side and broken by war and destruction. The soldiers spend their days building a secret barricade between the islands. By night, however, they construct a reminder of their native land – an exquisite chapel.

As tensions between the islanders and outsiders grow, the sisters’ loyalty is tested. Will Dot choose love, or family?

Recently finished

Links from the titles will take you to my review.

The Deception of Harriet Fleet by Helen Scarlett

The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland

The Tuscan House by Angela Petch 

After the Storm by Isabella Muir

When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.

Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place. 

During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.

But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes. (Review to follow for blog tour)

What Cathy (will) Read Next

Don't Turn AroundDon’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry (ARC, courtesy of Vintage )

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America.

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something.

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

#BookReview The Tuscan House by Angela Petch @bookouture

Blog Tour - The Tuscan House

I’m delighted to welcome you to the opening day of the blog tour for The Tuscan House by Angela Petch. My thanks to Sarah at Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy via NetGalley.

The Tuscan HouseAbout the Book

Corbello, Italy, 1947. A woman and a little boy stagger into the ruins of an old house deep in the forest, wild roses overwhelming the crumbling terracotta walls. Since the war, nowhere has been safe. But they both freeze in shock when a voice calls out from the shadows…

For young mother Fosca Sentino, accepting refuge from ex-British soldier Richard – in Tuscany to escape his tragic past – is the only way to keep her little family safe. She once risked everything to spy on Nazi commanders and pass secret information to the resistenza. But after a heartbreaking betrayal, Fosca’s best friend Simonetta disappeared without trace. The whole community was torn apart, and now Fosca and her son are outcasts.

Wary of this handsome stranger at first, Fosca slowly starts to feel safe as she watches him play with her son in the overgrown orchard. But her fragile peace is shattered the moment a silver brooch is found in the garden, and she recognises it as Simonetta’s…

Fosca has always suspected that another member of the resistenza betrayed her. With Richard by her side, she must find out if Simonetta is still alive, and clear her own name. But how did the brooch end up at the house? And with a traitor hiding in the village, willing to do anything to keep this secret buried, has Fosca put herself and her young son in terrible danger?

Format: Paperback (384 pages ) Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date: 31st March 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find The Tuscan House on Goodreads

Purchase links
Hive | Amazon UK
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Although a standalone novel rather than part of a series, The Tuscan House is the fourth book by Angela Petch to be set in her beloved Tuscany. The author’s love of Italy and its culture is clear to see, not least in the delicious descriptions of its landscape: ‘cypress-lined avenues meandering up to hilltop villages perched on ridiculously steep rises, churches and little chapels holding ancient treasures, simple shrines by the side of the road.’ And talking of delicious, surely only in Italy could a meal such this be served by monks in a monastery: ‘A first course of home-made tagliolini pasta, with a source made from slivers of truffle sourced from the woods was followed by tripe… tender, succulent slices flavoured with tomatoes, olive oil and herbs’.

Alternating between 1947 and the final years of the war, the story is told from the perspective of three characters – Richard, Fosca and Simonetta.

Haunted by memories of what he witnessed during the war serving as a non-combatant in the Friends Ambulance Unit, Richard’s return to Corbello represents the opportunity for a new start, a way of wiping the slate clean and leaving behind the grey skies of England. I liked the way his project to renovate an old tobacco factory acted as a metaphor for his own physical and mental recovery. That recovery is echoed in the return to life in the surrounding landscape, with poppies blooming where there were once trenches and fields cleared of mines returning to cultivation.  However, the impact of the war still remains, not just in the damaged buildings but in the fractured minds of people, the rifts that persist between families, the recriminations for actions taken, and the witch-hunts against those suspected of collaborating with the enemy.

The parts of the book told from the perspectives of Fosca and Simonetta powerfully depict the horrific realities of war, such as the harsh winters when food and fuel was in short supply, and the village was cut off from the outside world by deep snow on the perilous mountain roads.  The dangers of working for the resistenza, or even assisting its members by offering shelter or gathering information, become all too apparent and will have lasting repercussions, especially when not everyone can be trusted.  Fosca’s and Richard’s search for answers to the mystery of Simonetta’s disappearance is sure to keep readers glued to the book until the very last page.

The Tuscan House is a skilfully crafted story demonstrating that not only does courage come in many forms but so does love.

In three words: Emotional, immersive, dramatic

Try something similar: The Secret by Katharine Johnson

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Angela PetchAbout the Author

Angela writes: “I’m an award winning writer of fiction – and the occasional poem. Every summer I move to Tuscany for six months where my husband and I own a renovated watermill which we let out. When not exploring our unspoilt corner of the Apennines, I disappear to my writing desk at the top of our converted stable. In my Italian handbag or hiking rucksack I always make sure to store notebook and pen to jot down ideas. The winter months are spent in Sussex where most of our family live. When I’m not helping out with grandchildren, I catch up with writer friends.

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The Tuscan House