Friday, March 30, 2018

The Tuscan Child - Rhys Bowen

Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

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. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, 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… (Summary and pic from

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve read any of my reviews, I (and pretty much everybody else in The Land), totally love historical fiction right now. It seems to be stronger than ever, right? Especially historical fiction that takes place in the World Wars. It’s just really exceptional, I think. I feel like although I’ve read a few historical fiction novels from World War I, the vast majority of what I’ve read is from World War II. And much of it is women-centered. Which I love. Did you know that most readers are—by far—women? It’s not even close who is doing the reading, so it’s about time some super awesome female heroines emerge in historical fiction.

I have to admit, however, that while I love me some World War historical fiction, sometimes it just gets so sad it’s hard to read. Almost every time I pick up a new book I love it, and I’m always glad I did, but it doesn’t come without some pain. The suffering was just so horrible from every side—the soldiers, the occupied, the people at home, the concentration camps, the children, the aftermath…it just isn’t happy. It wasn’t that long ago, either, which I think makes it even more poignant. I have several grandparents—as does my husband—who served in World War II. That I have talked with family members about their experiences in these very situations makes it more real and also unbelievable. We must not repeat this history, RIGHT?

I did enjoy this story. I’m a sucker for a good time hop (a fact that regular readers probably also know). If done well, it gives you the opportunity to see into the past but also understand the connections between what happened then and what’s happening now. It’s the benefit of understanding the rest of the situation, and what became of the people, their lives, their families, their legacy after the initial story took place. Bowen did a good job of creating two interesting stories that kept me interested and going, and is obviously an experienced author who knows when to leave you hanging and when to finish out a scene. I did have one problem with the time hopping, though. The end of the book (and I’m trying to be vague here, because it’s a surprise) seemed a little bit of a jump to me. I’m not sure that the people in the future would have been able to make the intuitive leaps necessary to arrive at the ending of the story. It was a huge leap and that made the whole thing a little bit clunky and a little presumptuous given all the circumstances.

Although Bowen is obviously a seasoned author with some very popular books under her belt, I wouldn’t consider the writing to be stellar. Sometimes it felt a little coerced. Conversations were not always natural and sometimes the descriptions and narration was a little cheesy—exclamation points, stating the obvious, etc. It was just a little clunky at times. It’s still enjoyable, with a good story. It just wasn’t as effortless and flawless as some I’ve read. That being said, if you’re into the historical fiction genre, and you’re a fan of Bowen’s work (as so many are), you should check this out. It’s certainly a worthy and interesting addition to the historical fiction realm.

My Review: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean, although there are some hints of sex and also war violence.

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