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.
About 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
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
About 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.