The Tuscan Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

‘The Tuscan Secret’ by Angela Petch is one of those books that is difficult to define. Is it a romance; partly. Is it historical; yes if World War Two counts as historical. Is it a page turner; for me, not quite. The heart of this novel lies in its Italian setting. The author lives part of the year in Tuscany and it really shows. From the descriptions of the countryside to the food and customs, ‘The Tuscan Secret’ is totally believable. The deserted village of Montebotelino is real, I recommend watching the author’s short video on her Amazon page.
Two women – Ines, her daughter Anna – share tangled family histories. Ines has recently died and leaves to Anna some money and a box of diaries. Written in Italian, Anna cannot decipher the diaries so decides to leave behind her own unsatisfactory love life and use her mother’s money to travel to Rofelle in Tuscany. Why did Ines leave idyllic Roffele, what secrets did she write in the diaries, and how did she come to marry an Englishman.
 This is a dual timeline story which switches back and forth between mother and daughter. Anna arrives in Rofelle where she moves into an agriturismo and gets to know its owner Teresa and her brother Francesco. Anna’s Italian soon proves inadequate so Francesco introduces her to the locals and translates the diary in sections. Ines’ story is presented to the reader as her diary though it reads as narrative complete with dialogue. Ines is a teenager, helping her mother, longing to be with her brother Davide who is with their schoolfriend Capriolo, fighting in the mountains. Then one day, they help an injured English soldier who is trying to escape enemy territory.
I found myself looking forward to Ines’ sections and almost wished the story was completely hers. Rofelle is located in the Apennine mountains, home to resistance fighters and the route for allied soldiers escaping the Germans. The experience of the local people – the urge to fight, the need to survive, the duty to help fleeing soldiers, the threat of atrocities by the occupying German army – sets up impossible choices. I love any world war two story and especially those about an area with which I’m unfamiliar.
I struggled with the character of Jim who is thinly sketched and affected by huge events off the page. The author keeps these a secret from the reader as Jim kept them hidden from Ines, but it does make him an unsympathetic character. This feels like a potential heavyweight war novel hidden beneath a layer of romance which, as nice as it is, feels light and predictable in comparison. 
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I liked the story, the plot, the ending was nice for everyone who loves happy endings. Nevertheless it wasn't very "sophisticated", the language was very simple. Overall I recommend reading it and give it 8/10
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A beautifully written and heart warming historical fiction novel! i loved this storyline and the characters! The author has a fantastic way of grabbing you into this book and never wanting to leave! I read this in a sitting and could not put this emotional read down!!  Loved this and can not wait to read more by this author!!
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So Angela is a completely new author to me, but this book appealed as I love historical fiction that features a dual timeline storyline. I have to say though that the cover for this book is gorgeous too.

So my verdict for this book, is that I really enjoyed it. I thought it was beautifully told and very well written. The author has obviously done her research into both the settings and the historical element as it clearly shines throughout in the story. 

I especially loved how the story flicked from the past to the future and back so seamlessly. There were a fair few emotional and upsetting moments throughout but then a big part of the story features the war so you expect it to a certain degree. 

Well one thing is for sure, I will definitely be looking forward to reading other books by this author in the future.
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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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