Rivalries and romance in a Tuscan paradise. A relaxing writers’ retreat? If only! Perfect holiday reading from Domenica de Rosa, author of the bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series under the name Elly Griffiths. Previously published as SUMMER SCHOOL.
I chose this novel because it looked like a light, entertaining read in an exciting location at a time when we cannot travel. It certainly is a delightful read with glorious descriptions of Tuscany and feel-good romance but it more than that. A group of budding writers, who have yet to publish a book, visit a lovely castle, complete with its own ghost story, where they will be tutored by a successful author (currently resting!) while dining in style and visiting the important towns of the area.
We sympathise with English owner, Patricia, abandoned by her husband five years previously and struggling to pay the bills for staff and maintenance, as she makes her guests welcome and responds to their every need. Reading the diaries, emails and creative writing tasks of the guests helps us to know them intimately and it is this clear characterisation which made me engage with the plot so quickly. I soon fell for the charms of superb chef, Aldo and who could resist reading about the handsome handyman, Fabio, as he frolics in the swimming pool.
Amongst the guests are friends Cat and Anna, young mothers who are close friends, but where Anna gives loyalty, Cat uses her friend as a foil for her own beauty and success. Frenchman JP antagonises Patricia, even before he arrives, by his refusal to drink Italian wine, but gradually she finds that he has hidden depths. I couldn’t help identifying with aging spinster, Mary, although I don’t share her circumstances and it is wonderful to see her blossom in this new environment. Despite their different backgrounds, the group begins to bond and they will be sad to part but they each go home changed by their experiences.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character driven novels with an eventful plot and a most satisfactory conclusion. It certainly kept me reading late into the night.
One Summer in Tuscany on Amazon UK