The Tuscan Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I read this book on the afternoon of what I always think of as “a perfect reading day” – dark enough to need some lights on, rain tipping down, no pressure to leave the house, a whisker away from turning the heating on – and I really couldn’t have asked for anything much better. I’m always a pushover for a dual time thread: add some romance, a gripping and enthralling story about Italian wartime partisans, a modern story with a feisty heroine and full of the tastes and sights of Tuscany, and what a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

I knew I’d enjoy this book when I read the prologue – very atmospheric, a shocking and intriguing taster of the wartime story to come – but was then brought back to the story of Anna in the late 90s, the loss of her mother Ines, the delivery of a parcel of her diaries and notes, and her own decision to walk away from the mess of her life to find out more about the hidden history and the country of her mother’s birth. The modern story does predominate a bit at first, but I wasn’t in any way disappointed by that, as it’s a really good one – a bit of an adventure, trying out a new life in an unfamiliar country, decisions to be made, making new friends, finding her feet again.

Revealing a historical story through diaries and letters might have been done before, but I really liked the way the author revealed each new instalment, the pace dictated by how soon Anna could lay her hands on the next piece of translation as typed up by new friend Francesco. I particularly liked the way Anna was able to visit some of the key locations that feature in her mother’s story – and it’s quite a story, a realistically told coming-of-age account of privation and wartime atrocities, the bravery of the partisans, the cruelty and disregard for life of others, the impact on a family, and the excitement of first love.

There’s an unflinching realism about the wartime account, the emotional aspects particularly well handled, but I did particularly like the fact that the story extends beyond the wartime years into the heartbreaking story of Ines’ adult life and its grim realities. I know that Ines’ story was inspired by real events and a family history, but the author takes those bare facts – and undoubtedly a considerable amount of research – and moulds it into a story that is beautifully and poignantly told and comes to life in its telling.

The author’s writing is excellent. Anna’s story is set against a vividly described Tuscan setting, and I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on food and the unusual ingredients used to create the most wonderful dishes that I could see, smell and taste. The story itself is strong too, and far more than just a framework for the diary pieces – with well developed supporting characters, and scenes of danger and real drama that drive it forward. The ending might have been just a touch predictable ( I think I got there 50 pages ahead of the characters) but by then I was so invested in the story’s twin threads that it really didn’t matter one bit – and it was exactly what the story demanded to tie up its many threads.

A compelling story exceptionally well told, a challenging structure well handled, an emotional experience I won’t forget in a hurry – and a book I thoroughly enjoyed.
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There are a lot of books around at the moment detailing this period of Anglo-Italian history. This book stands out though, not only for the beautiful way in which the story is told but also because it's a wonderful story with an ending that is unpredictable. It started in a familiar way with Anne being left a box of letters from her Italian mother Ines. From then on, when Anna goes to Italy to find out more, I was completely captivated. As you might expect, dealing with this historical period, the book is quite heartbreaking in parts. Nonetheless, it is sensitively told and a great read.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy...

Wow! That was an amazing book and a beautiful book cover! I really enjoyed it a lot..

Looking forward to read more book from this author soon...
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This was a wonderful tale full of mystery and discovery and new love. I thought the author did a fantastic job of mixing the past and present story threats and the descriptions of the Tuscan countryside were so evocative I felt I was there.  It was a poignant and engrossing tale that kept me enthralled right to the end. A really enjoyable journey through time, which introduced me to some beautiful parts of Italy and left me feeling all warm and satisfied. Lovely!
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I'd like to start by saying that historical fiction is most likely my favourite genre, and this book did not disappoint! Anna embarks on a journey to Italy after the passing of her mother to find out more about where she came from. Following her mothers' diary entries and notes, she truly finds herself.

I really enjoyed the writing style and the concept of the dual timelines. Although a work of fiction, the novel allows you to try and understand what life was like in Italy during the war. Everything about this was beautifully crafted. I look forward to what comes in the future from Angela Petch!
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Great read, perfect for summer! Super interesting but also has a hint of mystery. Who doesn't love a love story? I know I do! Secrets that don't seem to add up for Anna, mysterious diary entries and letters left by her mother cause Anna to go searching. It angered me that her brother and sister could give two figs about their mothers past. I am so much like Anna, I love history and I wanna know! Especially family history! Without a doubt a great summer read. Will most likely buy the book too!
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When Anna’s mother passes away in a nursing home in England, she leaves Anna an old box of letters, yellowed with age.  They are all written in Italian, her mother’s home language, but as Anna’s father had forbidden her from learning Italian, she needs to find someone to translate them for her.  Knowing her mother was from Tuscany, Anna heads there and uncovers a shocking secret about her mother’s past.

I love historical books, particularly set during the war, so this looked just the kind of book I would enjoy.  Anna’s character is lovely and I particularly felt for her, having to deal with her mother’s death and then discovering the secrets that her parents never spoke about.  Told from two points in history, the author takes us on a captivating story set during World War II and present day in 1999.

The story from war ravaged Italy at the latter end of World War II was both heart-breaking and compelling.  Well researched it gives a gruesome recollection of what it was like to like in occupied Italy.  It also tells us the story of Anna’s parents, a story that Anna had never heard before.  Interspersed with this is Anna’s present day story, in the same Tuscan community that her parents were part of all those years before.  Here, Anna meets people who are connected to her and can help her fill in the blanks of her parents history.

A story of family secrets, love and loss, this book not only gives us a love story spread out over the decades but a history lesson from a time which many of us couldn’t even imagine.  A beautiful story, told with such emotion and feeling that it makes you forget where you are and what you are doing!  Would definitely recommend.
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An absolutey gripping story of world War II told through the eyes of Anna who finds her mothers diary and goes on the stay in Tuscany and uncover her mothers life during the war.  You must read this book. You can hardly put it down.  Well written
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As a fan of historical fiction I definitely enjoyed this novel.  Going back to find her roots, a young woman finds her mother's diary and other letters, allowing her to uncover secrets from the past and find her history, learn about her family and begin a new life.  A lovely read.
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A trove of papers seemed a paltry inheritance to Anna when compared to the house her mother left to her brother and the jewelry she bequeathed to her sister.  However, those papers lead Anna to Tuscany, where she unravels the story of her mother Ines' life, one her father Jim didn't want Anna to know. The diary is only the start for Anna, as she learns about her mother's valor during WWII, that she had more family, and gets a better understanding of why her father acted the way he did.  She most importantly behind to understand herself.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Nicely plotted and written, this is a good read.
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Anna decides to travel to Italy to try and learn more about her deceased mother Ines Santini. As it turns out, Ines had written Anna a diary that chronicled her years during the end of World War II. However, the diary is in Italian, a language that Anna's English father forbade her to learn. Her siblings, Harry and Jane, were pretty much grown up before Anna was even born.

Her trip to Italy might be her only way of having that diary translated. Even more, Anna wants to learn the beautiful language. As sad as Anna is to have lost Ines, the box of letters just might teach her more about her mother, and that is a gift in itself. Considering the fact that Anna and Ines always experienced a difficult relationship, deciphering the diary might bring Anna peace. Furthermore, there are things about the war that Anna never understood.

One of the first things that Anna learns is that her mother's having kept a diary could have been really dangerous for anyone concerned had it ended up in the wrong hands. Those are a few of the only words written in English. So Anna is more than intrigued. As Anna begins to learn about the contents of the diary, she starts to understand more about her father, and this is important to her.

When Anna arrives in Tuscany, she is immediately befriended by the owners of a bed and breakfast, two siblings. Imagine Anna's shock when one of the first thing she discovers is that her mother had a brother named Davide. Quite naturally, Anna wonders why her parents never spoke of him.

This news to Anna is only the tip of the iceberg, as layer upon layer of facts and detail are revealed. This includes explaining the fact that her father had PTSD, although the diagnosis was not named at that time. Growing up in England, decades after the war, left Anna seemingly unaffected by those tragic times. Sadly, Anna learns this was not the case with her mother and her family. What sadness!

Something else happens to Anna while she is in Tuscany. She draws rather close to Francesco. This is surprising to her, because she certainly did not go to Italy to begin a romantic relationship. What a nice addition to a otherwise touching story.

No doubt Angela Petch did extensive research while writing this book. This is a book that definitely made me think, and books like this are definitely keepers. This was truly an emotional read that had me captivated. There were some difficult passages for sure, especially concerning Anna's father. Not only is the story itself something to remember, it is the descriptive style in which the author writes about Tuscany that has definitely left an impression. This impressive story has an absolutely wonderful ending.

This book was originally published as Tuscan Roots. I do believe that the sequel, Now and Then in Tuscany, is being worked on. I cannot wait to read that book! 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This is a beautiful book about loss, and family secrets and discovery. It was beautify written and wonderfully told. I loved the descriptions of Tuscany. I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.
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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel.   This was a historical fiction with a dual timeline set in Italy.   The main character, ones, goes back to Italy after her mother's death to discover more about her past.   Ines's mother feel in love with and married a British POW.  Secrets come to life and ones falls in love and gets married herself in Italy.   The writing was very detailed and descriptive.   The plot had a few turns that kept me interested and pushing forward.   I am so deeply grateful for all those who have ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
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Anna's mom passed away. She inherits a box of papers, handwritten in Italian, telling her all she had suffered during the war in her Italian hometown.

Anna distraught decides to embark on an adventure, trying to unfold her mom's past and goes to Italy seeking the truth.

The diary leads her to a small village in Tuscany where she meets Francesco and her sister Teresa, who will become her friends and help her in her quest. While spending some time there, she realizes that some wartime secrets are never meant to be uncovered but with love and empathy, things could be worked out.

This adorable tale, based on true events talks about the tragic consequences of war and how they can impact through generations. The author has exquisite writing, giving the reader the enchanted possibility to be immersed in the Italian sceneries, smelling, feeling and even tasting its flavors. After reading this book you want to go to Italy.

If you are a fan of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, you cannot miss this one.

I highly recommend it.

THE TUSCAN SECRET BY ANGELA PETCH will be available on June 26th, 2019
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Have you ever wondered what was going on in Italy during WWII? For someone who wasn't there it is all so confusing; the Black Shirts, the Communists, the resistance, the allies, Mussolini – was he in or was he out?

In her new novel, The Tuscan Secret, Angela Petch uses historical fiction to help us make sense of what was really happening in the hidden valleys and mountains of  Italy. The protagonist, Anna, inherits a box of old letters and diaries from her mother, who was originally from Italy. As she works her way through the intriguing primary source material, most of it written in Italian, Anna feels herself drawn to visit her mother's village. Once there she continues to unravel the mystery of her mother's war years with the additional help of the local people. Her adventure includes falling in love, unravelling her own family linage, and finally understanding the parents who raised her and the heroic deeds that shaped their lives.

Viva Italia!
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This was a beautifully told tale mostly set in Tuscany, Italy and I found it absolutely entertaining.  It is told both in present time and in the past of wartime Italy.  If you love historical fiction and have an interest in Italy, this is a perfect read.

The story follows Anna who lives in England and is in a crossroads in her life, she’s lost her job, and her Italian born mother living in England, whom she wasn’t close to, has just passed away.  Anna’s childhood was filled with stormy arguments and her parents constantly bickering.

Anna is left an inheritance from her mother Ines, which includes fifty thousand pounds and a collection of her mother’s secret diaries and letters.  With her inherited money, Anna travels to Tuscany to visit the village where her mother grew up.   She wants to learn more about these Italian written scribblings and diaries and have them translated to English.  Here she learns of her family’s intriguing history during wartime, Ines’s new life in England as a war bride and her troubled life and secrets.  Anna feels a strong connection to her mother after reading the diaries.

This story is so wonderfully descriptive I could imagine myself there amongst the breathtaking scenery and tasting the delicious Italian food.  I adored the way it all came together at the end, exceptional.

Thanks to Netgalley/Bookouture for the ARC in exchange for an honest review
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I received a free ARC from #NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Tuscan Secret reveals the troubled past of a young Italian woman during WWII through the eyes of her daughter. Her English daughter, Anna, is bequeathed set of diaries and letters from her mother, Ines, about Ines's life in Italy. Anna has recently lost her job and broken up with her older boyfriend; consequently she is rather at odds in her own life. These diaries, mostly written in Italian, compel Anna to return to her mother's birthplace to connect with her and to learn more about her Italian heritage. This novel alternates between Ines's diary entries and Anna's contemporary wanderings.

War has brought hunger, violence, and treachery to the small mountainous communities where Ines and her family live. They care for an escaped English POW named Jim whose presence puts them all in danger. The sections of Ines and her family under German occupation are exceptionally strong. If this were a movie, The Nazis would be off-screen with their evil and inhumanity permeating the day to day existence of the villagers. Inevitably, Jim and Ines fall in love and settle on returning to England at the conclusion of the war. Death and loss are cornerstones of any WWII novel and here they erode the strength of the characters. Ines and Jim do marry but, unfortunately, their marriage is marred by PTSD and violence. 

Anna is determined to learn more about her parents so her trip to Italy really is about self-discovery. Her connection with the family with whom she stays is absolutely lovely as food and wine and history are interwoven. Love doesn't come easily since there are fifty+ years of secrets to unravel. The gradual translation of Ines's writing allows Anna and readers to truly feel Ines's experiences and emotions.

The early section detailing Ann's life in England is reminiscent of way too many other other novels. Stick with it; this novel is worth the effort.
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An engrossing and entertaining book. I liked the style of writing, the well written cast of characters and found the description of Tuscany quite realistic.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Anna is at loose ends, having just been made redundant, mourning her mother, and wondering about her future with her older lover. Along with some cash, she has inherited her mother’s memoirs, and on a whim, she decides to go to Italy to gain more insight into her mother’s past. She makes a fortuitous choice in lodging, and quickly becomes involved in the lives of Francesco, Alba, and Teresa, while learning life-altering facts about her mother’s history. To her surprise, she also finds romance. 

It’s very easy to get swept into this story. There are a few unnecessarily dramatic, formulaic moments, based primarily on misunderstandings between characters, but these are easy to overlook. As enjoyable as the story is, it really should be a screenplay, so that readers can experience the full beauty of the Tuscan setting.  A quick, but memorable, read.
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Thanks to NetGalley, Bookouture, Angela Petch for my digital copy of her new book The Tuscan Secret and I gave it three stars.
After her mum Ines passes away in 1999, Anna decides to visit Rofelle in Italy and look into her mother's past. Anna is very interested in discovering how her Italian mother ended up living in England as a war bride and married to her father Jim? When Anna asked her mother about her past or the war she was never keen to talk about it and she always wondered why her dad was cold and distant with her?
Anna has two older siblings her brother Harry he inherited the crumbling family home and her sister Jane inherited her mother's jewelry.
Anna's inheritance is a lump sum of money, some old family photos and her mother's old diaries.
Anna's parents marriage wasn't a happy one, her parents fought a lot and Anna was a lonely child as her older siblings had grown up and left home when she was still a little girl.
After she loses her job, Anna decides to travel to Italy, she books into a Italian bed and breakfast run by siblings Teresa and Francesco. 
Francesco helps Anna by translating her mother's diaries, Anna is pleased to here about her mum's happy childhood in Italy, she discovers her mum had a brother called Davide and how life in Italy changed during the second world war under the dark cloud of German occupation.
The story has many twists and turns, you discover why Anna's dad Jim ended up a bitter old man, it's due to what happened to him during the war and you also learn about how bad life was for the Italian people during this time. 
Ines really struggled as a new bride in England, her new husband is distant and cold. She didn't speak hardly any English when she arrived in England, how much she missed her parents, how cold England was compared with Italy and how much she hated the new food.
In Italy, Anna meets a rather grumpy old man who grew up in the same village as her mother, why is he so reluctant to talk about Ines and what happened to him during the war? Anna with Francesco's help slowly uncovers the truth about her mothers past and how the war had such a terrible in pact on her mothers family.
Anna also starts a romantic relationship with Francesco, I did find this part of the book a bit predictable but that's just my opinion and some readers might like a little romance included in the story!
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