Publication Info: February 20th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing, hardcover edition. Other editions available.
In December, 1944, Hugo Langley, the soon to be heir of Langley Hall, is shot down over Italy by the Germans. His leg badly injured, he manages to crawl to the edge of an olive tree grove and passes out. He is discovered by a young woman named Sofia, who lives in the village nearby. She helps him hobble to the ruins of a nearby monastery, where he can hide and try to heal. Over the course of the next few weeks, she brings him food and medical aid, stealthily avoiding the Germans and the sharp eyes of the townspeople.
In April 1973, Joanna Langley, receives word that her father, Hugo, has passed away. Hugo returned from the war to find that his inheritance must be sold to pay taxes. In greatly reduced circumstances, he lived with his daughter in a cottage behind the grand manor, which was now being run as a girls school, where he is employed as an art teacher.
Hugo and his daughter had a difficult relationship, as he remained emotionally distant after he returned from the war. Joanna’s first glimpse into her father’s behavior came in the form of a letter that she found in an old trunk. The letter, addressed to Sofia in Italy, was returned, unopened.
After opening the letter and reading the surprising contents, Joanna decides to embark on a journey to Italy to see where her father’s plane crashed in 1944. What she discovers helps her solve problems from her childhood and recent past.
The Tuscan Child is an easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is fiction in an historical setting, rather than historical fiction, and half of the book takes place in Joanna’s time in the 1970’s. There were parts toward the end that I thought were a bit trite and predictable, but overall it was an engaging novel. I have been a fan of Rhys Bowen’s works for a few years now, after discovering her Molly Murphy novels on the recommendation of a friend.
Recommended for readers of general fiction who are looking for a book to simply savor with a glass of Italian red wine.