Escape to Tuscany
Absolutely unputdownable WW2 historical fiction set in Italy
by Kat Devereaux
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add email@example.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 06 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 11 Jul 2023
Aria & Aries, Aria
A rich and engaging vision of life gone by and a lust for one woman's future, rolled into one. And now I want to move to Italy!’ Mandy Robotham
Just fourteen, Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her town’s resistance network – a secret she keeps even from her parents. She works alongside her brother Achille to relay messages, supplies and weapons to partisan groups in the Tuscan hills. Fuelled by courage and a fierce sense of purpose, Stella braves incredible danger and survives... but when peace comes in 1945, she vanishes.
Writer Tori MacNair arrives in Florence. Fleeing an emotionally abusive marriage, she’s come to build a new life in the city her grandmother taught her to love. As she digs into her family history, Tori uncovers decades-old secrets about a brave young woman who risked everything to save her world. As Tori and Stella’s stories intertwine, they reveal the power of love, community, and sacrifice across the generations.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 45 members
I have never wanted to travel more than readi g this book!
The characters the storyline and locations were just beautiful I didn't want the story to end.
This book really made me want to get on a plane such a beautiful experience from the gorgeous cover to the characters and story.
Highly recommended reading
Set giving 2 women's stories. Stella's begins during world war 2 and Tori in 21st century. Lovely book. It keeps taking you back and forward between the 2 women and how they end up being linked
Reading this book made me fall a little bit more in love with Italy. It made me celebrate women being their own champions and appreciate the vast spectrum of masculinity represented in the relationships Tori experiences.
I enjoyed the alternating viewpoint between chapters and how the story connected the two protagonists, without compromising their individual arcs. I’d have loved to have read more, and will look forward to what Ms Devereaux shares next.
Enjoyable read from two points of view. First, that of a 15-year old girl, Stella, during the German occupation of Tuscany and her family. She's at school but working with the partisans carrying messages and so on. Later she becomes more hands-on against both Germans and Communists. Her brother, Achille, is a major character too, very active and aggressively so in resistance. Her father traditional and her mother very much favours the brother. She has a hard life, subsequently disappearing but then reappearing in modern times. The second p.o.v. is that of Tori arriving in Tuscany, a place of fond childhood memories, to escape from a controlling husband and following the death of a beloved grandmother, The two stories link well together. Stella's is the more gripping and interesting. Tori's feels much less so and very much secondary - essentially a new romance then husband appears; he's yes manipulative and unpleasant but gives in easily and disappears. Lovely evocative descriptions of Tuscany. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.
Warning: This book will make you crave spaghetti carbonara. And arancini. And cacio e pepe. In fact, it'll make you want to drop everything, move to Italy, drink negronis (I don't even know what a negroni is but this book made me want one!) and fall in love with a handsome Italian.
I've just loved reading Escape to Tuscany. It's the kind of book that makes you miss the main character, Tori, when you get to the last page.
This is a duel timeline novel with some chapters set in WW2 and told from the perspective of Stella, and some set in the present day and told by Tori. I must admit I liked the Tori chapters most, but I did enjoy the WW2 chapters, especially as it became clear how the two women's stories were connected.
This is a wonderful novel and I can't wait to read more by this author.
I love books that are set in Italy and it was the title itself that drew me into the story of Stella, a resistance member during World War II.
Stella suddenly disappears from all records until a woman by the name of Tori arrives in Tuscany. I loved the story of Stella and Tori, who beings to uncover secrets of the past. Can she find 0ut what happened to Stella, lying her ghost to rest?
Like the title says, come and escape to Tuscany this summer.
An enjoyable world war 2 historical novel with a present day romance thrown in, set in Tuscany in both the 1940s and 2016
Tori moves to Italy to escape a bad marriage, trying to come to terms with her beloved grandmother’s death. She has wonderful memories of the country , having spent time there on holiday with her grandmother as a child.
In the 1940s Stella is a messenger for the communist resistance in her home town, near Florence. Gradually their two stories are told and the connection between the two women becomes clear.
I liked reading about the bravery of both the men and particularly the women of the Italian partisans. Stella’s story was particularly interesting. It showed the pressure many women were under in such difficult times and was especially poignant as Stella was still a schoolgirl being only 14 at the time.
As Tori goes about rebuilding her life and even meets someone new she begins to plan her research and write a story about her grandmother’s Italian life in the 1950s.
I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of Florence and the Tuscan countryside and I found the characters likeable and believable. My only complaint would be that Tori’s husband seems rather two dimensional and the ending itself was a bit rushed.
All in all an enjoyable read which was both entertaining and informative.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc.
What a wonderfully powerful story. This had me hooked from the first chapter. The main storyline, whist being about fictional characters and areas, the backdrop is true. The atrocities of World War II were bought to life here and intermingled with the present day. It had me reading into the small hours as I struggled to put it down. Italy is a beautiful country and this contained all of those wonderful elements.
An incredibly interesting and powerful story about the atrocities that occurred during WW2 in Tuscany and what it was like to live in fear yet also be part of a resistance. I loved that this shined a light on parts of history we don't really hear about anymore/learn about in school and it was told through realistic and likeable characters you want to root for .I think this will be a hit for any historical fiction lovers if you love beautiful scenery, dual timeline, strong female leads and a mix of romance.
In Kat Devereaux’s Escape to Tuscany, Tori receives an inheritance from her recently deceased Granny and she leaves her husband to return to Florence, Italy where she spent many vacations with her. Living off the memories of days gone by and the search for the haunts they would visit together, Tori meets new friends who help her discover who the new Tori is, while her editor pushes her to put the new Tori into her writing and turn her Florence excursion into something sexy and witty.
While going through the boxes of papers her Granny kept, Tori stumbles upon a racing hero that her Granny knew back in the day who tragically died young. Proposing to research and find out the story of Achille Infuriati, Tori looks to her friends, Marco and Chiara, to help her sort through the information and find out more. Tori finds that Achille’s sister, Stella, has no documentation of her existence and it intrigues her to find out what really happened to her. As Tori dives deeper into Achille and Stella, she is determined to bring to life the heroism both displayed in differing ways.
Written with strong female characters who have their own challenges to resolve and grow from, Escape to Tuscany paints this picture of Florence and neighboring villages that makes one want to hop a plane and see the sites for themselves. This book is a great summer read with more present day timeline than historical, but it is woven magically to seamlessly tell the story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the advanced copy. Opinions expressed are my own. This book is set for publication on July 6, 2023.
#netgalley #arc #bookstagram #katdevereaux #escapetotuscany #aria
I was drawn to the gorgeous colours on the cover and thought I'd give this a try.
This felt like the kind of book that I would choose if I wanted to escape for a while. It was a feel-good story, and the characters came to life in the setting. I think this is the type of book that I would typically enjoy once, as an alternative to mysteries. I wouldn't read it again, but I enjoyed it.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a free copy to review.
I love a book with dual time lines, especially if WWII is involved, and this one ticks both boxes well. Tori McNair has finally had enough of her overbearing husband, the final straw being her missing the last days of her beloved grandmother Margaret’s life due to some underhand behaviour from him. She decides to go to Florence, where she and her grandmother spent some wonderful holidays. With the help of her lawyer, Marco, she digs into Margaret’s past, and finds more than she expected.
Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her small towns resistance movement, acting as a courier, moving supplies, all the while knowing if she was captured she would be shot. At the end of the war, she seemingly disappears without a trace. To Tori it seems as if Margaret and Stellas’ lives are connected, and she’s determined to find out how.
I really enjoyed this book, I found myself engaging with all the main characters, except maybe Toris sister. The descriptions of the Italian countryside really made me long to go there, sit in the sunshine outside a small cafe and have a Negroni or two. The Resistance details have obviously been well researched, and are very believable. The only downside for me was the ending, I could have done with a couple more loose ends tied up. Apart from that a perfect summer read.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
When Tori's grandmother dies, she is left £30K to spend on herself.... realising at the funeral her Scottish husband has lied to her about a wake the night before the funeral she realises she can no longer live with him and departs to Florence - a favourite holiday destination of her youth with her grandmother.
Tori was writing a book about the life of a Laird's wife and realises that after leaving Duncan she can no longer complete the book despite receiving an advance. She contacts her agent and with the publisher she decides to write a book about her grandmother.... the first 1000 word outline a disaster. Tori who has a difficult relationship with her sister and mother, persuades her sister to send her all of her grandmother's papers. While searching with her new friend and lawyer Marco, she discovers a world her grandmother lived in and her love of her life from the 50's.
The book actually follows Tori's story and that of Stella, the sister of Archilles the love of her Grandmother.
Excellent read, but I did feel it ended rather abruptly.
Escape to Tuscany by Kay Devereaux
A perfect summer read that makes you want to take yourself off to Italy and even more so Tuscany. The way the author writes about the place you can imagine sitting in a cafe watching Tori going about her day Loved it.
Stella Infurianti is only 14 during the occupation in WW2 but she does her but and joins the resistance.
When the war is finally over there is no trace of Stella.
Tori McNair has escaped her bully husband and come to a place where she used to stay with her grandmother who has now passed.
A lovely dual timeline story , a wonderful setting and a fabulous storyline. Perfecto .
Stella Infuriati is a teenage school girl when she joins the resistance in the village of Romituzzo, she attends high school in Castelmedici and it’s the perfect cover. The Germans have made it very clear, anyone caught helping the resistance hiding in the hills of Tuscany will be jailed or killed and including women.
Her parents have no idea what Stella is doing, they adore her brother Achille and he’s their favorite child. Stella’s father is a mechanic, Achille and his friends are communists, he disappears on his motorbike and is most likely off in the hills fighting the fascists and Germans. Despite the danger, Stella continues transporting notes, weapons, medicine and with help from father Anselmo. As the war gets closer to Romituzzo and men have to hide because the Germans are sending them off to work in Germany or hunting down any they assume are involved in the resistance.
The dual timeline debut historical fiction novel is set in central Italy between 1944 and 2019 and told from alternating the points of view of the two main characters Stella and Tori.
Victoria McNair lives in Scotland and is devastated when her beloved grandmother Margaret passes away. Her husband Duncan was fine when they first got married, but slowly over time he’s became controlling, and he dishes out hurtful verbal abuse. After her grandmother’s funeral, Tori decides her marriage is over and she travels to Florence. Tori and her Grandmother used to visit the city together when she was a child, her Italian is a little rusty and she wants to find two of her grandmother’s friends.
Tori needs to hire a lawyer to sort out her tenancy agreement, work permit and to put in her application for permanent residency. Marco is really helpful and handsome, he discusses Tori’s situation, and he will help her with the mountains of paperwork than needs to be filled out and submitted over the next couple of weeks. Tori is a freelance writer, after speaking with her agent, and they come up with an idea about her writing a novel set in Italy? In her search for information about her grandmothers past and idea's for her book, Tori uncovers hidden secrets, about what happened to Achilles and why his sister Stella disappeared at the end of the war and the connection they both had to her grandmother!
I received a copy of Escape to Tuscany by Kat Devereaux from Aria & Aries and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was interesting reading about the war in Tuscany and it's Providences, the different sides, and how women made perfect carriers for the resistance, they hid items in bags, prams and even in their hair. The narrative focuses on relationships, both of the main characters didn't get along with their mothers, were subjected to verbal abuse and Tori's growing attraction to Marco. My favorite characters were Stella, Tori, Marco and father Anselmo. A great way to start of her writing career by Ms. Devereaux and I love stories set in Italy and about women overcoming difficult situations life throws at them and five stars from me.
An enjoyable easy to read novel. Escape to Tuscany is a historical fiction with a dual timeline following the story of two strong women. A book of love, new friendships, dreams, love and life. Kat Devereaux did a wonderful job describing the beautiful settings of Italy.
I would like to thank Aria & Aries, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this complimentary copy for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
1944 and young Stella should is helping the Italian resistance by working as a partisan courier. Along with her brother Achilles and his friends, she is doing vital work
2019 and author Tori is mourning the loss of her beloved Grandmother, reading the last letter she wrote her, Tori discovers she's been left some inheritance money but her Gran has one condition, she spends it on herself and visits Florence, a city they travelled to many times together.
This wonderful dual timeline novel is very evocative and descriptive, I found myself salivating over the food and imagining myself in the many beautiful settings of Florence ( definitely a trip for my ever growing bucket list) the 2 years merge seamlessly into each other as we discover what links the 2 woman.
A lovely story to match the beautiful cover
Thank you to Net Galley and Aria & Aries for the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own.
This is a dual timeline story involving Sheila (who was a resistance fighter in 1944 Italy), and Tori (who is living in 2019). They are connected through Tori's grandmother. Tori moves to Florence to escape her marriage, and to learn more about her grandmother. I liked this story, but I wish the author had spent more time on Sheila's story. I thought her story was more interesting than Tori's. Other than that, it was a good story. It was well-written and it kept my interest.
Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy.
This is a story with a dual timeline..
It’s 1944 and Stella is doing her bit by helping the resistance, along with her brother Achilles and others.
In 2019, Tori, an author is grieving for the loss of her beloved Grandmother.
As she reads the last letter she wrote her, she finds out that she’s been left some money as her inheritance, but it comes with a condition, she has to spend it on herself.
Tori goes to Florence, the place they both visited so many times together.
I loved the descriptions, the food that made your mouth water and felt like I was there.
We then find out how the two women are linked.
I highly recommend this book.
Escape to Tuscany is, as the title promises, about escape. Kit Devereaux crafts a dual timeline novel, centered on Tuscany, first during the German occupation of WW II, and secondly, paired with a contemporary romance that reveals the loss and secrets discovered from that earlier time. The shifts between times are easily followed, since the author heads chapters either Stella, during the German occupation, or Toni, in contemporary Tuscany.
Both stories are set near Florence. During the German occupation of WW II, Stella story begins when, as a 15-year-old girl, she risks her life as a courier of weapons and clothing to help local partisans. Stella's story disappears after the fight for independence at the end of WW II. In the contemporary world, Toni moves to Florence, a city her grandmother taught her to love, when she flees an unhappy marriage. The plot of Escape to Tuscany is how the stories of these two different women are connected and what Toni discovers about Stella's life..
I enjoyed this novel, but it did seem to end rather abruptly. If it had not said "The End," I would have turned the page looking for more. The author promises to reveal secrets, which she does, but it does seem as if there was more to tell. It was predictable that Toni's estranged husband would show up eventually. Toni's sister underwent a metamorphosis that was too abrupt. But in spite of those few complaints, I did enjoy reading this novel and would recommend it.
Thank you to Devereaux and to publishers, Aria & Aries, for providing this ARC, in exchange for my honest review. My comments above reflect my honest opinion. Thank you, also, to NetGalley for suggesting this novel.
Such a touching and magnetic story told in two different times-the present and World War 2-in Italy. At the death of her beloved grandmother, Tori learns of her husband’s deceit about her grandmother’s vigil. It is the last straw for her and their marriage. Buffered by her grandmother’s inheritance, Tori leaves him for Florence, the town she and her grandmother often summered. This is the story of her first month in Florence and of her search for clues about the life her grandmother lived there during the war.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Brother and sister Achille and Stella join the resistance in Italy during the Second World War. After the war Stella vanishes and Achille becomes a heroic racing driver. Present day , Tori leaves an abusive marriage to start a new life in Florence where her recently deceased Grandma used to take her on an annual pilgrimage.
These two/three stories interact beautifully, showcasing the wonder of Italy and the atrocities of war. I was pulled into the story immediately and the only problem was the abrupt ending
Kat Devereaux is a new author for me, I enjoy dual timeline historical reads so this was right up my street. We follow Stella, a young girl in 1944 who is part of the resistance in Italy and Tori
in 2019 who has just lost her Grandmother and walked away from her unhappy marriage. As a result of her inheritance, she’s moved to Tuscany and is searching for information about her grandmother’s past. Throughout the novel we discover what links both women.
This was an enjoyable Summer read. Thanks to NetGalley, Aria & Aries, Aria for the opportunity to read and review this book
This is a new author for me and I just loved this book. I have been to Tuscany for a holiday some years ago and now I have the story and places in my head I just feel need to go back., for me only a well written book can make you feel like this.
The characters the storyline and locations were just lovely and I am sure I could feel myself there with the turning of each page. The duel time line was well written and I didn’t feel lost with it as I have with some other reads. I just loved it and didn’t want the book to end.
My thanks as always to NetGalley and to Aria & Aries, Aria for the early read.
Tori McNair had just lost her beloved grandmother, Margaret, and once again her husband Duncan neglected to tell her important information regarding the funeral. It was one thing too many, and Tori had had enough. She fled her husband and his abuse, as well as the mother she didn't get along with, and the sister who sided with her husband. Tori's arrival in Florence, the city her grandmother used to bring her when Tori was a child, soothed her, and as she found an apartment, and a lawyer, contacted her agent about the book she was writing, and set to finding out about divorcing Duncan, she gradually found some peace.
Researching her grandmother's life took her back to a young man named Achille, and his younger sister Stella. Both were active in the resistance during the war, and both survived. But when Achille was tragically killed, and Stella vanished, Tori wondered if she'd hit a wall. Could she discover more about her grandmother, and about the secrets long hidden?
I was initially drawn to Escape to Tuscany by the beautiful cover, and the historical aspect cemented the need for me to read it. Escape to Tuscany is Kat Devereaux's debut novel and is set in Italy among ancient old buildings, restaurants, museums and art galleries - a divine place to find yourself, as Tori needed to. I enjoyed the historical side of the story the best, with Stella, Achille, their parents, the old priest, and many partisan friends - Tori was harder to like. But I definitely enjoyed it, and also recommend it :)
With thanks to NetGalley and Amy of Head of Zeus, for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Tori heads to Florence after receiving an unexpected inheritance. It’s where she spent time with her Grandmother. She also needs to find a new idea for her book and just maybe her new friend Marco can help with that.
It’s a dual timeline story, I thought Tori’s story was more interesting.. I feel like some issues were left hanging.
Und hierum geht es auf Deutsch: Der Roman spielt auf zwei Zeitebenen. Einmal sind wir 1944 in Romituzzo, einem kleinem (fiktivem) Ort in der Toskana in der Nähe von Florenz. Stella ist 14 und das jüngste Mitglied der lokalen Widerstandsbewegung. Stella ist mutig, und sie kämpft wie eine Löwin für ihr Land gegen den Faschismus, gegen die deutsche Besatzung. Ihr Zuhause ist nicht wirklich liebevoll, hier spielt ihr älterer Bruder Achille die Hauptrolle. Achille ist aktiver Partisane in den Hügeln der Toskana, ein Held, und nebenbei auch noch bei allen beliebt. Als der Krieg zu Ende geht, beginnt für Achille ein neues Leben als Rennfahrer, während Stella einfach zu verschwinden scheint….
2019 kommt die britische Autorin Tori MacNair in Florenz an. Sie ist Hals über Kopf geflüchtet aus einer toxischen Ehe, Ihre Großmutter hat ihr ein kleines Erbe hinterlassen, mit dessen Hilfe sie es schafft, auszubrechen und einen Neuanfang in Italien zu wagen. Italien ist das Land der Sehnsucht, denn Tori war hier als kleines Mädchen öfters mit ihrer Großmutter gewesen, die hier viele Freunde hatte. Toris neuestes Buchprojekt soll sich um ihre Großmutter handeln, und je mehr Tori Nachforschungen anstellt, desto spannender wird es. Tori soll noch einige Geheimnisse der Vergangenheit aufspüren….
Die Geschichte wird abwechselnd aus der Sicht und Ich-Perspektive von Stellas und Tori erzählt, und die Verbindung zwischen den beiden Frauen ist schon bald klar, aber das tut der Spannung keinen Abbruch.
Mich hat dieser Roman gefesselt und berührt. Ich fand beide Erzählstränge richtig gut und packend. Die Erzählebene um Tori herum hatte mich schon nach den ersten paar Zeilen mitgerissen. Hier wird ziemlich eindrucksvoll peu a peu eine kaputte Ehe seziert, und man kann nicht anders, als mit Tori mitzufühlen und voller Spannung zu beobachten, wie sie ihre ersten Solo-Schritte unternimmt. Eine intelligente junge Frau, die Stück für Stück in ihrer Ehe ihr Selbstwertgefühl eingebüßt hat, und nun wieder sich berappelt. War richtig gut beschrieben. Interessant auch, wie der Rest der Familie, vor allem ihre Schwester, auf den Gatten reagiert hat, bzw, wie alleine Tori plötzlich dastand. Ich denke, das war schon ziemlich authentisch. Ja, Tori ist auf jeden Fall stärker, als sie anfangs dachte, und findet natürlich auch zaghaft ein neues Liebesglück (hey, wir sind in der Toskana im Sommer, dolce vita lässt grüßen, natürlich kommt hier auch amore vor 😉!)
Den Erzählstrang um Stella herum fand ich vor allem historisch interessant. Die letzten Kriegsjahre und auch die Nachkriegsjahre in Italien waren politisch brisant und interessant, und Romane / Erzählungen, die in diesen Zeiten spielen, finde ich per se faszinierend.
Flüssig und bildhaft geschrieben, konnte ich durch den Roman fliegen. Auch für Nicht-Muttersprachler war das Buch gut zu lesen, hat Spaß gemacht. Teils war es sehr emotional, aber nie kitschig. 2 starke Frauen in herausfordernden Zeiten – war gut gemacht, hat mich wie gesagt abgeholt.
Einzig das Ende war etwas aprubt, da dachte ich, hey, fehlen mir hier Seiten? Aber nein – da stand schon ENDE.
Ich bedanke mich bei Netgalley für das Rezensionsexemplar und empfehle den Roman gerne weiter! Von mir gibt es volle Punktzahl!
Escape to Tuscany is a dual timeline novel, set during World War II and present day. Alternating between then and now, first we meet Tori, who has just lost her beloved grandmother. Wanting to take some time away from her controlling husband, she decides to use the money her grandmother left to travel back to Tuscany and relive some of the memories she made with her.
The story then switches to the 1940s and Stella, a 14 year old who risks her life acting as a courier to help the local partisans. Drama and danger are never far away for those in the resistance. I have to say, this was the part of the story I found more interesting, and set in Tuscany, where I have holidayed on quite a few occasions, it was easy to visualise the wonderful countryside there.
Tori’s curiosity leads her to begin researching her grandmother’s past with the intention of writing about her life in Italy in the 1950s. As the story moves back and forth between the two characters, the connection between bot eventually revealed.
There is mystery, romance and, of course, the beautiful backdrop of the Tuscan countryside and the stunning city of Florence. A lovely summer read, especially for those who enjoy a dual timeline story. I can highly recommend this one.
3.5 stars rounded up.
Romituzzo, 1944, Just fourteen, Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her town's resistance network - a secret she keeps even from her parents. She works alongside her brother Achille to relay messages, supplies and weapons to partisan groups in the Tuscan hills. Fuelled by courage and a fierce sense of purpose, Stella braves incredible danger and survives.,,, but when peace comes in 1945, she vanishes.
Florence, 2019. Writer Tori McNair arrives in Florence fleeing an emotionally abusive marriage, she's come to build a new life in the city her grandmother taught her to love. As she digs into the family history, Tori uncovers decades-old secrets about a brave young woman who risked everything to save her world. As Tori and Stella's stories intertwine, they reveal the power of love, community and sacrifice across the generations.
This story has a dual timeline and two strong female characters. It's also descriptively written. We learn of some of the atrocities that took place during WWII. What it was like living in fear and being part of the resistance at just fourteen. I did prefer Stella's story more. I found Tori to be immature and indecisive in some things. The story is told in alternating points of view from Stella and Tori. It also seemed to end abruptly.
I would like to thank #Netgalley #AriaAries and the author #KatDeveraux for my ARC of #EscapeToTuscany in exchange for an honest review.
This was a beautifully written dual time story, set in Tuscany, present day and wartime threads equally strong and engaging – and one I very much enjoyed.
Prevented from attending her much-loved grandmother’s pre-funeral vigil by her controlling husband, Tori’s inheritance enables her escape – to flee to Florence, securing an apartment, reliving the memories of their many visits together. A writer, she finds herself unable to deliver the book she’s contracted for – about her life in the Highlands – and plans instead to write an account of her stay in Tuscany and any detail she can uncover about her grandmother’s past. With the help of lawyer Marco – and despite the unwelcome and far too frequent interventions from her family, urging her to return – she slowly uncovers the past, and her grandmother’s links with a notable racing driver, famous far beyond the small town of Romituzzo where he grew up, uncovering a wider and intriguing story of hardship and bravery in occupied Italy.
1944, and at fourteen, Stella Infuriati – like her more favoured brother and many of her friends, and without the knowledge of her parents – risks her life daily by carrying ammunition and supplies for the local partisans. Her first person account alternates with Tori’s – with particularly well written and dramatic accounts of day-to-day bravery and the atrocities she experiences. But as the war draws to a close, she disappears – something it’s particularly difficult to do given Italian bureaucracy – and the rest of her story, along with her connections to her grandmother, are for Tori to uncover.
The setting, in both wartime and present day stories, is vividly drawn and beautifully described – and while this might not be a true story, it’s clear that the story draws on extensive research around the Tuscan wartime experience to give Stella’s account a particular feeling of authenticity. And the pre-Brexit experience of moving to Italy is nicely done too – the mountain of paperwork and barriers to be negotiated, with the help of the lovely Marco. The storytelling is excellent, the threads of the story nicely entwined and slowly disentangled – it’s a compelling mystery, with some present day drama too, an ending I found entirely satisfying, accompanied by some well-handled emotional touches and a welcome and convincing developing romance.
If you enjoy a well-written dual timeline story, as I do – and who wouldn’t enjoy a book set in this beautiful part of Italy, and to learn a little more about its difficult past – this is a book I’d thoroughly recommend.
When Tori MacNair's husband Duncan stands in the way of her getting to farewell her grandmother it is the last straw. She takes her inheritance and flees to the Italian city of Florence, a place that holds cherished memories of trips with her grandmother.
Tori needs to spend times healing from her emotional wounds from her marriage, and on a more practical level she needs to get back to work as a writer. She has a book contract to write about her life in the Scotland but that's going to be difficult given that she doesn't even live there anymore. She needs to find a new story to pitch to her impatient agent and publisher...and fast.
Going through her grandmother's papers she comes across some letters which lead her to the story of a famous racing car driver who died back in the 1950s. How can the tragic story of this man be connected to her family? And can Tori find the people who her grandmother always used to visit whenever they came to Florence. Maybe they will help her put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Tori is an interesting character to read about. Sometimes it is difficult to read as she is very damaged. Her marriage has left her without any confidence in herself, having been denigrated and undermined for years. And if her own sister will not believe her when she tells her how unhappy she was, why would anyone else? She needs to find her self belief, and to believe that she deserves to be happy. As she meets people in her new life, can she allow herself to take a chance at happiness.
This is a dual timeline novel and the historical part of the storyline focuses on a young woman named Stella. She is a young girl of 14 when we meet her during World War II. She is secretly risking her life by working as a courier for the resistance. Her brother Achille also is part of the resistance organisation and knows the risks she is taking but her parents are blissfully unaware. Through her eyes, we see the techniques used to smuggle arms, illegal newspapers and more. We also are with her in the midst of fighting where Stella is called onto provide medical assistance to her fellow resisters. One of the interesting things is that Stella disappeared from the records in 1945. Will Tori be able to find out what happened to her?
I am going to put it out there that I enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and I read it in a day, or should I say night. This is the author's debut novel and I will be looking for the next book from her, which will also be set in Italy. Having said that, I did wonder about the indirectness of the link between Tori and Stella in telling the story. It felt kind of forced, or maybe a better way to say it is that it lacked some cohesion. Then again, maybe the fact that it is not as direct as a lot of these books are is a point of difference.
Recently we had a friend around for lunch. The deal was that he would give us some handy tips about travel in Hawaii as we have recently book flights for later in the year, and we would do the same for him following our recent trip to Southen Italy. Part of the conversation was about whether it would be worth visiting Florence. My advice was absolutely, and reading this book definitely reiterated that for me.
I am sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy.