Italy, 1923. In a tiny hamlet nestled in the Tuscan mountains, farmers gather after a hard day in the meadows, and children’s laughter rings across the square: but one little boy does not join in their play. Behind his deep brown eyes hides a heartbreaking secret…
Ninety years later. When elderly Giselda Chiozzi discovers a lost little boy, curled up asleep in the beech forest outside her grand but empty home, she can’t help but take pity on him. It’s been a long time since she had a visitor. Waking up to her kind smile and the warming smell of Italian hot chocolate, Davide soon blurts out what drove him into the cold Tuscan night: how he’s different from everyone else, he’s never belonged anywhere, and now his beloved mother is ill.
Giselda promises to help Davide trace his family history – she knows better than anyone that connecting with your roots can ground you in the present – and hopes it will make Davide realise that home is where he truly belongs. Together the unlikely pair discover the story of Davide’s great-grandfather, Giuseppe Starnucci, a young boy who spent his days milking cows, helping with the harvest, and hammering horseshoes in the forge. But after a terrible incident that changed his life forever, Giuseppe also ran away.
David is overjoyed to find a connection with someone from his family at long last, but when Giselda uncovers the shocking reason why little Giuseppe fled to start a new life, she has an impossible decision to make. Telling Davide the truth about his great-grandfather could persuade him to go back home where he belongs. But could it also tear the family apart? All Giselda knows is that she must save this lost boy before her own time runs out and he is left alone for good…
Inspired by true stories of rural Italian life, this absolutely stunning historical read is perfect for fans of Dinah Jeffries, Rhys Bowen, and anyone who’s ever longed to stroll beneath the cypress trees and taste the fresh mountain air of Tuscany.
Previously published as Now and Then in Tuscany.
About the author
I live in the beautiful Italian Apennines for several months each year. Such an inspiring location.
My love affair with Italy was born at the age of seven when I moved with my family to Rome where we lived for six years. My father worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and he made sure we learned Italian and visited many places during that time.
Later on I studied Italian at the University of Kent at Canterbury and afterwards worked in Sicily, where I met my husband. His Italian mother and British father met in Urbino in 1944 and married after a war-time romance.
I wanted to write “The Tuscan Secret” not only for my amazing mother-in-law, Giuseppina, but also to make people aware of the courage of the resistance fighters and the generous hospitality shown by the poorest of families, including relatives of our Italian neighbours in our corner of war-torn Tuscany.
This is my first novel and is a story about ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. (Please note it is a revised version of “Never Forget” and “Tuscan Roots”). I was signed by wonderful BOOKOUTURE for a two-book deal and one of these was a slight re-write of “Tuscan Roots”. The new title is “The Tuscan Secret” and has more tension and intrigue to the story. I am so proud to be a part of this publishing “family”, as they describe themselves, who have patiently helped me to polish the original. It is available on Amazon and has reached the bestseller slots.
A sequel to this original book was self-published way back, at the end of April 2017. “Now and then in Tuscany” features the same family that appeared in “The Tuscan Secret”. The background is the transhumance, a practice that started in Etruscan times and continued right up until the 1950’s. STOP PRESS: This has a new title: A TUSCAN MEMORY, re-published by BOOKOUTURE SEPTEMBER 7TH 2020.
Watch out for another Tuscan, war novel. “The Tuscan Girl” was published on February 25th 2020, inspired by the many ruins I see on my walks in the Apennines. Each dilapidated house holds a story for me, whether true or invented. I’m delighted to announce that my publisher, Bookouture, has commissioned another two Italian novels from me for 2021 and 2022. Watch this space, as they say.
My research for all these novels has been greatly helped by my kind Italian, country friends, who have vivid memories of both the Second World War and the harsh times they endured in their childhoods.
Italy is a passion but my stories are not always set there. I have also written a novella about two fun-loving ladies of “a certain age” who live by the seaside in Sussex and get up to all kinds of adventures. “Mavis and Dot” were launched on December 1st 2018 at St Paul’s Centre, Worthing, West Sussex and have received fab reviews. I have a sequel in mind. All profits from sales go to research into cancer and I am pleased with the amounts that I’ve been able to deliver for this worthwhile charity. How many of us have lost friends and family through this vile disease?
What an amazing journey Angela Petch has taken me on with, ‘A Tuscan Memory.’ I enjoyed reading both the present day chapters and the historical chapters. It didn’t take long for me to become attached to the main characters and each of them had a moving story to tell.
One character who I totally loved was Giselda and I actually laughed out loud a few times. The sweary parrot was something else and her relationship with Davide was moving. Anna’s worries had me gripped and I couldn’t wait for them to discover the truths. There’s heartbreak galore.
If you’re after an epic journey of discovery, an authentic walk through Tuscan life and lots of emotion, then this book will take you there. Fantastic!
Thanks for reading!
Why not check out one of my other reviews? Maybe you’ll find your perfect read.
Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross – review. https://griffbuck.wordpress.com/2022/04/28/nanny-needed-by-georgina-cross-review/
Carla Kovach – author of Amazon and iBooks bestselling DI Gina Harte crime series.