Wednesday, March 17, 2021

It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini (Book Review and Giveaway!)

It Happened in Tuscany was a very pleasant quick read.

Book Details:

Book Title: It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini
Category: Adult Fiction, 408 pages
Genre: Mainstream Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Capriole Group
Release date: Feb 18, 2020
Tour dates: Mar 8 to Apr 2, 2021
Content Rating: PG-13. The novel includes violence in war scenes and non-explicit sex scenes. No bad language.

Book Description:

From the multiple-award-winning author of To Tuscany with Love comes a captivating story of the epic tug of war between honor and duty, the irrepressible power of love, and the concept of family.

In 1945, Will Mills and his fellow soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division scaled Italy’s treacherous Riva Ridge in the frigid night to break through the nearly impenetrable German line of defense. Severely wounded, Will was rescued by Italian partisans and one, a beautiful girl, tended his injuries until he had the strength to rejoin the U.S. troops.

Tormented and haunted by his decisions and actions during wartime, Will knows he has unfinished missions in Italy to complete. The passage of time and years of carrying this unfulfilled need have molded Will into a bitter, angry man.

Seventy-five years later, Will’s spunky thirty-two-year-old neighbor, Sophie Sparke, faces disaster in her life. Everything is going wrong—her job, her love life, even her dog. Part of the problem is that confident and fiercely independent Sophie lets her quick mouth get her into trouble.

Grouchy, mean-spirited Will finagles Sophie into traveling with him to Tuscany to find the partisan who saved his life. Will also secretly hopes to confront the demons his wartime actions created. Sophie and Will comb enchanting Tuscan hill towns on an improbable and unfolding mission with few clues to aid them. Will’s passionate tenacity drives their quest and in the process exposes their darkest secrets. The journey alters the course of their lives, and Will and Sophie find more than they had imagined in the hills of Tuscany.

Book Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

It Happened in Tuscany was a very pleasant read with short chapters that moves the story along quickly. I loved the premise of an American soldier going back to Italy after a lifetime to search for a lost love and answers. Will and Sophie are neighbors, but they are often at odds with each other because Will is grumpy and gripes at Sophie. Both have lost family and are lonely. Will convinces Sophie to embark on a journey with him to Italy. Sophie is reluctant because Will is over ninety, but Will is determined and soon they are off to Tuscany.

The story starts in 1945 with Will fighting the Germans in the Italian Alps. Just when it was getting very interesting, it switches to the present day and unfortunately does not go back to that time. Both Will and Sophie have hidden emotional burdens they carry, which come to light once they are in Italy. This was a really good story, however, I feel that it could have been longer, with more backstory scenes of both Sophie and Will's past, which I found were glossed over in exchange for more lighthearted cooking and touring scenes. I was hoping to discover more about Will's relationship with his first love Francesca, but we know very little of her. Also, I'm not a fan of insta-love so I thought the romance between Sophie and Niccolo was a little too quick.

Apart from this, the story flowed well and I enjoyed the setting and the Tuscany history. Will was my favorite character and grew on me as the story progressed. I wanted to get to know him better as a soldier in Italy. 

If you like quick reads set in Italy with romance and adventure, this one is a fun read.

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Meet the Author:

Gail Mencini is the acclaimed author of It Happened in Tuscany and To Tuscany with Love, both of which are Denver Post #1 bestsellers and award winners. Gail grew up in DeWitt, Nebraska, graduated from Wartburg College with a BA in Accounting and Economics, and earned a master of taxation degree from the University of Denver. A frequent visitor to Tuscany and a homegrown gourmet cook, Gail has toured Italy by car, train, bus, Vespa, and foot. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

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