The Tuscan Child

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

Joannes father dies and she  finds herself back home. While packing away his things she finds remnants of a past that she knows nothing about. His life in the war is a great mystery to her. She knows he was a pilot that got shot down, but the rest of his story is a mystery. She finds herself in Tuscany looking for the truth of her father's past and while there she faces many of her own challenges. 

This was a very good book. It was filled with mystery, suspense, and a hint of romance. I loved Joanna. She was so full of life and was willing to put herself out there to find out the truth about her father. Despite all the issues, she seemed to find exactly what she was looking for and what she needed. Overall this story was very well written. It was filled with history and kept me reading.

Reviewed By 
Stormi Ellis
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Having enjoyed Bowen’s other books, I was excited to read THE TUSCAN CHILD.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed overall with this tale of World War II pilot Hugo and his daughter Joanna.  The story is told in alternating narratives taking place in 1944 and 1973, but it moves along at a glacial pace and feels unbalanced.  The World War II part is better, but it lacks the tension and sense of peril one expects from the circumstances in which Hugo finds himself.  I never felt invested in any of the characters and found them bland.  It’s a bit too predictable, and the ending is too easy and perfect.  The best part of the book is the luscious descriptions of the Italian food.
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Don’t read this while hungry! A beautiful, heart-breaking story about a woman who goes in search of her  deceased father’s secret past. Set mostly in the hills of Tuscany, the story alternates between two narrators. Hugo is a British fighter pilot during World War II who has been shot down and finds shelter just outside the small town of San Salvatore. Here he encounters a woman that will change his life. She helps him to avoid capture and heal and they make an important discovery together. Joanna lives in the UK in the 70’s and is estranged from her father when she discovers he has passed away. Among his effects she finds a letter that leads her to San Salvatore to try and understand the father she never really knew.  This novel is part mystery, part love story, part homage to Italy. The depictions of the village and Tuscan hillsides made me long to go there. And the descriptions of the food made my stomach rumble. Just beautiful.
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This book has a great premise! The storyline is intriguing as it follows the life of two family members in two different times. The father is followed during WWII and then his daughter is followed during the 70s. It's intriguing, but was a book I could easily put down and had trouble picking up again. I can't give you a good reason except that I just couldn't get into it. The characters are well developed, the story is well done, it just didn't grasp me like I always hope happens when I read a book.
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In 1944, English pilot Hugo Langley is injured when his plane crashes in German-occupied Tuscany. He finds shelter in a bombed out monastery where he is discovered by Sofia Bartoli as she searches for mushrooms. 

In 1973, Joanna, his estranged daughter, is clearing out his home after his death. She discovers a letter among his things. It had been addressed to a woman named Sofia but had been returned unopened. She reads the letter and discovers that he may have had an affair with the woman and they may have had a child, ‘our beautiful boy’. She decides to go to Tuscany to find the truth. As Joanna seeks answers about her father, a murder occurs that may be linked to the past and precipitated by her search and soon Joanna finds herself the main suspect.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen is divided between the past and Hugo’s story and the present with Joanna. It is a well-written and compelling mystery. It is also a richly woven story about love, family, adventure, good food, friendship, and the importance of memory.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
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In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, found among his personal effects an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…
After the first chapter, I was sucked into this book. I really wanted to know what would happen to Hugo.  And after he met Sofia, I was sure that Joanna would find out that the Tuscan child was the result of his relationship with her. The story was well told through time slip from Hugo and Sofia during the war and current day Joanna and her visit to Tuscany. Although I have been to Italy many times, I have never spent much time in Tuscany and I learned quite a lot through reading this book.  My mouth watered at the description of the food that Joanna was introduced to in the book. As the story unfolded, it seemed only right that there should be some romance in the book also.  
What more could you want besides mystery, romance and food?  It certainly made for an entertaining read. I definitely recommend the book. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review which is my own.
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The Tuscan Child is a lovely book and story, told from two different viewpoints at two different periods of time -- Hugo's narrative begins in 1944, and his daughter, Joanna's, in 1973.  We are transported to the tiny village of San Salvatore in Tuscany in both time periods as Hugo's and Joanna's stories begin to converge.

The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful.  The descriptions of Italy, Tuscany and San Salvatore and its residents were so rich that they reminded me a lot of Mary Stewart's wonderful prose and her ability to capture her settings so perfectly.  Then, there is the food -- don't read this book on an empty stomach!  There are no recipes for the mouth-watering meals prepared in this book, but the descriptions are enough to get you started.

I had not read any books by Rhys Bowen prior to this one, but I am looking forward to delving into her other books as I know I will be just as enchanted by her writing as I was with A Tuscan Child.
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In a twist on the dual narrative, both stories take place in the past, one closer, in the 70's and the other in the 40;s during WWII. It's a pretty good storyline with wonderful descriptions of Tuscany. I think it would be a good summer read, not too heavy for dozing in the sun.
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I chose to read The Tuscan Child book because I lived in Italy for three years and visited Tuscany frequently. Also I’d heard this book had an art historical bent to it. The book is a bit of a genre-blend with a mystery, a bit of a travelogue, and a romance to boot. It is for cozy mystery type readers, those enjoying foreign locales, as well as those liking genre-bending fiction. 

Ms. Bowen’s prose is clear and easy to read. She has chosen to tell this story in the point-of-view of a British lord, Hugo Langley, serving as a World War II fight pilot in Italy in the 1940s alternating with that of his daughter, Joanna Langley, a woman in her late twenties studying for the bar in the 1970s and dealing with her own traumas.  She avoid visiting him, seeing only the “old and bitter, remote and resigned, [father] who had long ago given up on the world.” He, in turn, doesn’t agree with certain life decisions she has made.

The first chapter starts as the pilot’s plane is spiraling out of control and about to crash. It is exciting and definitely shows the POV of a rational man making tough decisions under extreme stress. That excitement fades with the next two chapters written in the daughter’s POV as she returns home at his death. These chapters are slow, but eventually Joanna finds artifacts that help her see her father for the man he had once been. Her own life in tatters, these items propel her to Italy, to the fictitious hamlet of San Salvatore, where the majority of the story is set, to try to piece together her father’s history. 

Bowen also handles scenery well, capturing the atmosphere of Tuscany with its heat, its vegetables, orchards, even its cooking. She sometimes lingers a bit too long on the beauty of the area, however. For example: “Down below shops were open to the street: a butcher or delicatessen with piles of salami in the window, a shoe shop, a wine merchant with casks outside. Impossibly narrow alleys led off from that central street, some hung with laundry, others with casks of wine outside doorways. And everywhere there were bright window boxes full of geraniums…” On and on for well over a page.

Despite its slow start after an exciting opening, I enjoyed reading The Tuscan Child. Bowen masterfully teases the reader with several minor mysteries in one POV that are somewhat solved later, sometimes in another POV, all leading up to the big mystery. For example, Joanna has her own tragedies, and these are carefully withheld by Bowen and revealed somewhat later in the book. Her father’s mysteries gradually come to light as well as the identity of the “Tuscan Child.” The romantic ending is a bit too tidy.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for my honest opinion.

This was a wonderful book.  It takes place in a northern Italy. in a small fictional town, it was so descriptive, I could almost smell the wildflowers and fields.  I love dual timeline stories; this one is told by our main characters, Hugo, in in the 1940s and his daughter, Joanna, in the 1970s.  A wonderful story of love, loss and the choices we make in life.  I felt that it was hard to get into for the first few chapters, but once there, I was committed to finding out how the stories are connected. After finishing this book I was left with a warm feeling and the urge to visit Italy.
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The Tuscan Child takes place in two different timelines. One is in Italy towards the end of WWII & the other is in the 1970’s. It’s told from two perspectives. The first is from a wounded English soldier, Ugo, who is hiding out from Germans in a small Tuscan village & being helped by a young local woman. The second is from Ugo’s daughter’s perspective. She travels back to that Tuscan village, after her father’s passing, in search of answers. What happened to the mystery Tuscan woman who helped save her father’s life? Did they have a secret baby? Do the villagers know more than they’re letting on? 

I really enjoyed how this story was told. I don’t like to give too much away in my reviews. However, I will say that the love story aspect is sweet with a slight twist at the end. At times, it was predictable but it doesn’t take away from the story as a whole. Thank you NetGalley, Rhys Bowen & Lake Union Publishing for the ARC!
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The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Brief Summary: Joanna Langley discovers her father’s secret past as a British World War II pilot who parachuted into German occupy Tuscany. He was hidden and cared for by an Italian beauty named Sofia Bartoli. In going through his belongings after his death, she finds a love letter from him to Sofia and embarks on a journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s past.

Highlights:  This book is a fast pace an easy read that grabs my attention from the beginning and didn’t let me go for three days until I finished it. I love when novels are written with alternating narrators in the past and present and I enjoyed both perspectives equally. I love how the storylines came together.  I enjoyed the colorful details of the luscious Italian food and beautiful Tuscan scenery. It made me want to visit Italy. 

Explanation of Rating: 4/5 This book has a compelling story line but I don’t know that I was particularly inspired by Sofia’s courage nor was there anything particularly unique about the story. I don’t know that it’s going to stay with me. I wish that Sofia would’ve been one of the narrators. I will say there were also times where foreshadowing was anti-climatic. I also wish we would’ve known what became of Sofia.

I do recommend this book for fans of historical fiction. There’s also love stories that develop for fans of romantic fiction. Book clubs may also enjoy this though I don’t know that there are a ton of provocative issues that warrant discussion.

Thank you to Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review
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I loved the Italian setting. It provided a different backdrop for a WWII story. Interesting to read about
the German occupation of Italy and the community attitudes of the time - including the divided
loyalties.
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The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen is a lovely historical fiction split between 1944 Tuscany and 1973 England and Tuscany. Expertly woven, the story intertwines the two eras into a story which might have been the history of anyone, exploring the impact of one’s actions on the situation of progeny. 
In this story, Bowen relates the adventures of an English airman who is forced to abandon his mortally damaged bomber over the skies of Italy only to be found by a local woman who at the risk of her own life and that of her son, husband’s grandmother, and the entire village, decides to help the Englishman hide.  A strong relationship blooms between them. For a time Bowen leaves the reader wondering if the relationship survived the war and his return to England.

Some 30 years later, the Englishman dies.  His daughter, Joanna, who believes herself to be his only child, returns home to learn she has an older half-brother she has never met and possibly another sibling living in the Tuscan countryside.  

Uncovering a part of her father’s life she never knew existed, Joanna is driven to learn more of her father’s time in Italy during the war. She makes her way to Italy only to become entangled in a “new family”, a murder, and an entirely new life while discovering a father she never really knew.

Bowen is a master story-teller and certainly does not disappoint in “The Tuscan Child.” Her characters are well developed, storyline well thought out, situations believable.  The story flows with an ease which engages the reader, while allowing for periods away.
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This book covers two time periods: WWII in Italy and thirty years later. We follow the effects of the war on the people in the towns, as well as, the airman who managed to survive his plane being shot down. You read about the contrast between folks who tried to help the Allies and shared what few supplies they had and those who secretly supported the Nazis. Even after 30 years, the consequences in the war-torn areas are evident. The author does an excellent job of capturing the raw emotions brought about by the dangers and deprivations of war.

Thirty years later, the pilot's daughter visits this small town in Italy where her father was shot down. She is greeted with locals who want to help her learn more about her dad and others who are openly hostile. 

I really enjoyed following the families in the two time periods
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The Tuscan Child is absolutely another richly well done story by Rhys Bowen. She makes the 26 simple letters of the alphabet into page after page of stories that I cannot help but keep turning the page for. I don't recap stories in my reviews but I do need to say this:  do yourself a favor and please read The Tuscan Child. The pages will almost turn themselves :)
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I love this era in a book. It is a great book with such wonderful characters and pulls you in from the start. You won’t want to put it down. It’s a very well written book and my first by this author. I loved it.
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This book sucks you in and doesn't let you go. I love WWII novels and this is up there with some of the best ones I've read. It would definitely give book clubs plenty to discuss.
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Past actions coloring today's possibilities.

Fascinating story that has a young English woman tracing the mystery of her father's plight in the Tuscan countryside after his plane was shot down during World War 11.
Finding hints about a possible sibling when packing up her dead father's belongings, Joanna Langley travels to the village of San Salvatore in Tuscany in the hopes of learning more.
What she finds are old secrets and mysteries, and a glimpse into the heart of a father she barely knew.  A murdered local feeds into the intrigue. The story of Hugo Langley's time in Tuscany is told through Joanna's father's voice. These time slips between the past of 1944 and the present heightening the tension. And yet there is a strong thread of connection, fed by a woman who links the two, Sofia Bartoli.
Certainly the opening chapters paint two very different sides of the same man. The Hugo we come to know of 1944 and Joanna's memories of him in 1973 are world apart.
An enjoyable and very plausible read!

A NetGalley ARC
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Thx to  Netgalley, lake union publishing and Rhys Bowen for this ARC. I love this authors Molly Murphy series. I am a big fan of this author. . This is a stand  alone book which I simply loved as well. She writes about WWIi but not so much that it becomes a history lesson as in so many others who write on that subject. It was perfect, there is adventure, romance, and mystery. What’s not to love !?
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