The Tuscan Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Well written and absorbing this was a good book about secrets.  I've never read this author before and look forward to more from her.
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A beautiful Tuscan journey of self-discovery, culture, love and family.

3.5 stars rounded up  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took me a while to get into this one but I’m glad I continued reading.  

Anna, a 33-year-old woman inherits her mother’s old diary entries and $50,000.  Finding herself at a crossroads in her life she decides to use the money to travel to Tuscany and explore her mother’s homeland.  She finds herself immersed in a culture very different to the English one she is accustomed to.  Anna finds accommodation at a guesthouse and meets Francesco, a dramatic, warm-hearted Italian and Anna enlists his help to translate.  The diary entries are intertwined throughout the book while continuing to follow Anna in her determination to find the answers to her mother’s past.

1944 WWII
Ines, a young Italian woman joins the Resistenza, running errands for members of the resistance.  Young and eager to fall in love she meets Jim, a handsome Englishman.  Despite warnings from loved ones Ines is swept off her feet.  

After a long separation at the end of the war Jim returns to marry Ines and move home to England.  The trauma from the war greatly affected Jim, he is not the young man she grew to love.    What once sounded like an escape from the ordinary is now a cold, lonely reality.  Ines finds herself yearning to return to the Tuscan mountainside. 

I really enjoyed reading Ines' story but I wasn't as engaged with Anna's story line.  I was surprised at first by Anna’s love interest and I never really felt engrossed in their romance.   The location and scenic descriptions were beautiful. 
 
Thank you Netgalley and Bookouture for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in return for a review based upon my honest opinion.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, it will definitely not be the last. What can I say about this book it was heartbreaking, it was heartwarming, just a pure pleasure to read.  I love stories that are told in a dual timeline, I love the way this one was done with our main character in the present and the past being told by her mother’s diaries.  The story touches on so many subjects, in wartime Italy, so hard to read some of the atrocities the Germans inflicted in the Italian people, such a real feeling from this story. 

When Anna is bequeathed her mother’s diaries; she decides to go to her mother’s hometown in Italy and try to get a feel for who her mother really was, who she was before.  Anna, with the help of Teresa, her landlady in Italy and Teresa’s brother discovers more than just who her mother was and brings her to a new realization about who she is and what she wants to do with her life. The scenery was stunning, I can almost picture the mill
in my mind’s eye,. I can’t wait to read more books by this author.
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A well written account of a family torn apart by WWII. 

I loved the storyline and appreciated how the characters were well rounded and sympathetic. Uncovering long-buried family secrets and heartbreak leads Anna to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of her family., and explains some of the undercurrents that have permeated her life for so long. Looking into her mother's past causes a ripple effect that causes an entire village to come to grips with wartime events, so many years later.

I would absolutely read more from this author.
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I had really high hopes for this book and I was a bit disappointed that it took me so long to get into the story. I am usually a massive fan of WWII books and get into them straight away but this one took just a tad too long to draw me in, which is why I've gone for 4 stars. The writing style was great though and it was obvious that a lot of research had been done by the author.
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One of my favorite genres is about experiences during WW2 and unfortunately this one fell short for me. It took a good 50 pages before I found the story to be a bit interesting which is just a little too long.
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When Anna's mother dies and leaves her a diary and  notes about her wartime past in Italy and her subsequent life in England she decides to go to Italy for a couple of months  and discover her roots and her mothers story.
 
She finds lodgings in a small "agriturismo" near the village where her mother (Ines) spent her childhood and becomes friends with the owner and her brother. The book has a beautiful setting in the Tuscan Appenines to the north-west of Arezzo.

Slowly she discovers her mothers wartime experiences from the diary pages that are translated by the bed and breakfasts owners brother (Francesco) translates for her. in the meantime a love story slowly develops between Anna and Francesco.

What I liked about the book is that it shows that life doesn't always turn out as expected and that a love-story can go wrong. If the author had just described the story of Ines during the war in the Appenines and stopped at the point where she and Jim get married and travel to England it might have seem the perfect love-story.

But seen in retrospect from the diaries and Anna's discoveries in Tuscany you get a totally different perspective. Makes you wonder about all those other happily ever after endings.... 

The book is beautifully written and I think the author did a lot of research and fact checking. Almost in league with Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Mark T. Sullivan) and Lucia Grindles Villa Triste.

4 to 4,5 stars. 
I thank Netgalley for providing met with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Oh what a story! As an avid reader of WW2 novels, I have read a lot but found that I knew very little about life in Italy during the war. Reading this book has made me want to find out more! This is a beautifully written story highlighting the lives of the local country people during this period. 
Anna is left an unusual bequest by her mother, her diaries. Much of the writing is in old fashioned Italian which Anna struggles to translate, so she decides to visit the village where her mother was born and to try to discover more about the Italian side of her family. 
Anna’s parents met in Italy during the war, and her mother went to England in 1945 to live with her English husband. Through the diaries Anna discovers more about her mother and her parents marriage, and also about the life of Italian partisans during the war. This book is so beautifully written, and is based on real people and true facts. The insights into life in Italy during WW2 are fascinating and intriguing. The partisan movement and the sufferings of the Italian people are very well drawn - really bringing this period to life. 
The story has a dual timeline, that of Ines (Anna’s mother) through her diaries  and of Anna herself and the discoveries she makes in modern Italy. This really helps to bring the story to life. I really cared about the characters in the book, hoping for a happy ending for all!
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Il Mulino. An old crumbling mill, by a winding river, nestled in the Tuscan mountains. An empty home that holds memories of homemade pasta and Nonna’s stories by the fire, and later: the Nazi invasion, and a family torn apart by a heartbreaking betrayal.

Anna is distraught when her beloved mother, Ines, passes away. She inherits a box of papers, handwritten in Italian and yellowed with age, and a tantalising promise that the truth about what happened during the war lies within.

The diaries lead Anna to the small village of Rofelle, where she slowly starts to heal as she explores sun-kissed olive groves, and pieces together her mother’s past: happy days spent herding sheep across Tuscan meadows cruelly interrupted when World War Two erupted and the Nazis arrived; fleeing her home to join the Resistenza; and risking everything to protect an injured British soldier who captured her heart. But Anna is no closer to learning the truth: what sent Ines running from her adored homeland?

When she meets an elderly Italian gentleman living in a deserted hamlet, who flinches at her mother’s name and refuses to speak English, Anna is sure he knows more about the devastating secret that tore apart her mother’s family. But in this small Tuscan community, some wartime secrets were never meant to be uncovered…

This was an emotional read. I really wasn't expecting to become as invested as I did!

*Book received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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There's another book I just read, The Peacock Room, that is almost EXACTLY like this particular book. British woman goes to Italy in search of her history. This one didn't hold up to the other book. I'm sorry.
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So, now I want to go to Tuscany! What a fun story. I loved it! 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Lovely feel good story. It was well written and flowed well. Easy to read and hard to put down. Perfect on these summer nights
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This book is engaging and well written. 
This book is a multi layered drama. The author has done extensive research and this book takes you away to the hills of Tuscany 
A great read
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Anna's mother has died and has left her a sort of diary, scribbles in Italian in her native language. Her mother died of dementia and her siblings scoff that the writings amount to anything very much. Anna however feels that there is a message somewhere. Being at the cross roads of her life, with a broken relationship behind her Anna decides to go to Tuscany and try to bring some sort of comprehension to her mother's life, which was not a happy one.



Going back decades to WWII, to partisans, to traitors and to the resistance in Italy is the story and Anna's mother's role in this story in this small village who tried to hold out against the Nazi invasion.

Generations later, very few want to talk of the past but Anna wants to get to the bottom of her mother's story. What she found was unexpected and very sad, but Anna finds closure of some kind and love for the future. She discovers family which was totally unexpected and explains why she always felt that she did not quite fit in with her English family.

Delicately told of the horrors of the war and invasion, the deprivation of livelihood of food and basics and making do. Of not knowing who was your enemy, and who would betray you must have been living on the edge. The descriptiveness of this part of Tuscany was particularly beautiful.

As usual another story set in WWII depicted very well.
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This book is a dual timeline between the present day and the Second World War and the historical part is loosely based on the author’s family. Tuscany is a part of the world she knows very well and her love for it shines through in the achingly beautiful descriptions of the settings. This very gifted writer can certainly take you with her, both in terms of location but also the richness of the story. It’s a much loved trope (daughter is left to discover mother’s secret after her death) and so well told I really missed the characters when I had finished reading.
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Angela Petch’s The Tuscan Story is a dual time period story that exposes the horrors of World War II, its affects on the survivors, and hope for the future. I am writing this review with a few tears in my eyes from the story’s ending of putting the past of Anna’s mother to rest and the hope for Anna’s future.

Anna’s inheritance from her mother Ines was a hand written diary mostly in Italian, Anna travels to Italy to find someone to translate the diary and see the town where her mother was raised, Although some parts of the book were hard to read about the war and the affects on the survivors, there are wonderful passages of hope. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked this book a whole lot! It was a story within a story! 
The daughter decides to go to her Mom's home place right
after her death with her Mothers diary that must be translated. 
It's a beautiful story with a couple of bumps in the road. It has
a great ending as well.
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A lovely read ! This book will have you dreaming of eating olives and fresh cheese under olive tree in a Tuscan vineyard . The writing is sublime , the small village location so aptly described by the author is dreamy and the melding of past of present so expertly done. 
This is a charming story of past and present in a small. Italian village. The story revolves around the horrors of WWII and the present day where life is peaceful and charming . 
Anna’s mother Ines, passes away leaving Anna a box full of old letters.  Anna becomes especially intrigued by the aged letters written in Italian by her  mother. She is unemployed , does not like her life and on impulse travels to Tuscany to have the letters translated.  She befriends members of a small village and soon the book is traveling back to WWII and the occupation and melding perfectly back to the present. 

Anna discovers the bravery of her Mother and the village under the tremendous horror of the occupation.  The descriptions of the Tuscan countryside fill the reader's senses . .The culture of Italy is described in detail from the people, the landscape and the wonderful food.  I loved this book and look forward to further works by the author. Thank you for the ARC for review. My opinion is my own. I highly recommend this book. Very well done to the author !  



In each time-line, bot
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Great read. The author wrote a story that was interesting and moved at a pace that kept me engaged. The characters were easy to invest in.
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Angela Petch's novel The Tuscan Secret opens with a brief but powerful and descriptive prologue detailing the brutal conflict of World War Two and how it brought such cruelty and torture to so many. It was a time of great danger and loss of life and this story focuses on how one family dealt with the impact of world wide events in their little village in Italy. A quote at the beginning says 'How lonely is youth which is over far too soon. Grab your happiness while you may. There is no certainty in tomorrow'. These words couldn't be more apt for the themes of the book and for how the story develops. This is a dual time-line story which I love and we delve back and forth between the modern day -1999- and the war years.

We learn of the past through recollections written in a diary but as we move further through the book one does forget it is a diary entry you are reading as you become swept away in the story. Admittedly, it took me some time to get into The Tuscan Secret. I think it took some time to find its rhythm and pace and to establish the setting and characters. It was only around the half way point that I felt the story coming together and links and connections becoming established. I definitely think the later half was far stronger than the first and overall this did show that the author has a talent for writing historical fiction as this was inspired by true events but at the same time I feel there is even greater things to come from Angela Petch.

In February 1999, Anna is at a crossroads. She has lost her job in an estate agency and also her mother has recently passed away. She wonders what will come next? What should her next move be? Is now the time to grab any opportunity that may present itself or should she sit still and ponder? Her mother has left her some money and a collection of papers. Her older siblings Harry and Jane have been left property and money but Anna really has no deep and lasting connection to them as growing up they were always significantly older and it was almost like two separate families emerged.

Anna desperately misses her mother but their relationship was never an easy one as her mother never openly talked about her previous life in Italy before she arrived in England having married Jim. Theirs was a tempestuous and fiery relationship with arguments and shouting the sound of Anna's childhood. She always believes that she was made to feel less loved and valued, that she was more of a nuisance than anything. Now as she contemplates looking through the papers left to her she wonders will her mother finally become known to her. Are there skeletons hidden in the closet waiting to emerge? Only time will tell if she is willing to take the risk and embark upon a journey to discover the answers to the many questions running through her head.

The vast majority of the story is set in Italy and as Anna decides she needs some time on her own, she travels to the Rofelle region in Tuscany to where her mother was born and spent the formative years of her life. Here Angela Petch excels in writing detailed and wonderful descriptions of the Tuscan countryside. The setting jumps out at you from the pages and as the surrounding land where Anna is staying plays such an important role in the book the descriptions were vital in helping the reader establish an overall picture. Anna hopes that as the older generation never liked to talk about things that by going back to where everything happened that she will become closer to her mother and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of who Innes was and how she was changed and altered by her experiences during the war.

Anna stays with Teresa and her brother Francesco. Francesco has a daughter Alba, who has elective mutism following a trauma in her life. These people she meets are complicated but warm and welcoming and over the many days she spends there she comes to know them well. Perhaps she gets a little closer to someone more so than any other but this develops over time and is slow and cautious and not without its worries, fears and the apprehension of embarking on something new and exciting. I thought the relationship that developed between Anna and Alba was so true and genuine. Anna wanted to help Alba to reach beyond the wall of silence she has created for herself. I think Anna's intentions were real but also it was as if she wanted to make up for the fact that her own childhood was not as it should have been and she wouldn't have wished this on anyone else. Anna had been brought up in England to keep her feelings hidden and never to confide in anyone but as the magic and charm of Italy begins to work its magic and as Francesco translates the diaries maybe all is becoming much more clear to her and hopefully she will find the understand she so desperately craves?

The story from the past is told in diary entry form. Extracts are interspersed throughout the modern day story but I initially questioned would it have worked better to have had a specific dual timeline story as in chapters solely dedicated to Anna and then chapters specifically focusing on Innes instead of reading Innes' story through recollections. I didn't think in the beginning we got much of a background into Innes and her family and how they were coping with the war. Instead we are more or less straight into the point where she begins to help the partisans. I just felt we dived into her story at such a vital point and that we needed to get more time to know her and how her family were involved with the war. Innes and her family wish nothing more than for the war to end and so as her brother Davide joins a band of partisans with his friend Caprilo high up in the mountains close to their village she too feels she must do her duty. Innes is filled with loyalty, obligation, courage and bravery. She will put herself in danger countless times as she knows every little bit will help in the effort to see the Germans defeated.

I definitely felt that as the story progressed into the later half of the book that it was at this point that the format of the diary entries really began to work. I was totally sucked into Innes' story as things take dangerous and sinister turns. Her recollections were so vivid and I felt every bit of her anxiety and heartbreak but also as love begins to blossom we saw a different side of her emerging. I became completely lost in what was unfolding so much so that when a diary entry ended I was surprised to be returning to Anna in Italy. It was like I had forgotten she existed and really coming towards the end I wanted to keep reading more and more of Innes as I felt I was gaining such a deep understanding of her. She really did sacrifice so much and how she comes to be in England and raising her family was a surprising turn of events but perhaps not always the happiest times of her life.

Admittedly I did guess the big twist as we came towards the end but I thought it was such a fitting conclusion to what did turn into a brilliant story and one that will leave a lasting impression on you. I thoroughly enjoyed how the story came full circle and the divisions and misunderstandings began to dissipate. I would definitely recommend The Tuscan Secret and it would be even better if you had the luxury of reading it in the surroundings in which it is set. If like me if that cannot be the case than a day curled up on the couch or relaxing in the garden will do just fine as Angela Petch will transport you to a different time and place to a story full of emotion and mystery.
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