The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies #TuesdayBookBlog #WorldWarTwo


In 1943, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan villa among the olive groves is upturned by the sudden arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she agrees to shelter a wounded British radio engineer in her home, keeping him hidden from her husband Lorenzo – knowing that she is putting all of their lives at risk.

When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Feisty, independent Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome partisan named Marco, she realizes it’s a promise she can’t keep…

Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?

My Review

I chose this book by Dinah Jefferies because I have enjoyed her previous stories set in the Far East so much. This novel, set in wartime Italy, is far more distressing because of the death and suffering of the local people but it is a compulsive tale which we should all know about. There are two very different heroines, Sofia, a kind, intelligent Countess who cares for her husband, her household and village of Castello and Maxine, a brave Italian American airlifted to the area to co-ordinate between the Tuscan partisan resistance and the Allies. The two women have little in common, but they are soon relying upon each other. As Maxine travels around on her motorbike making contacts and participating in action against the German army, Sofia shelters a wounded British airman and tries to persuade 17-year-old Aldo, her cook’s son, to stay in the castle rather than risking his life by joining the partisans.

Missing Lorenzo, her husband, who frequently travels to Rome in his role for the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Sofia suspects he is keeping secrets from her and she too, protects him by not revealing her role in helping resistance to the Germans. She is forced to entertain two German officers, one a pleasant man, the other arrogant and potentially a danger to her. Meanwhile Maxine becomes close to Marco, a partisan. Knowing they cannot plan a future together they take pleasure in each other’s company when they can. The women then travel to Florence and Rome where we see the awful effects of the German occupation.

I found it difficult to put this book down. I knew some of the wartime events in Italy from researching my father’s army service there in the 1940s but a useful timeline at the beginning of the book gives essential information. The other interesting feature is the description of the villages and countryside of Tuscany which entices me as I have yet to visit the area. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thrilling story of loyalty, love and fellowship.

The Tuscan Countess on Amazon UK

Dinah Jefferies

Dinah was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine.

As a teenager she missed the heat of Malaysia, which left her with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. She went to live in Tuscany where she worked as an au-pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when Dinah lived with a rock band in a ‘hippie’ commune in Suffolk.

In 1985, the death of her fourteen year old son changed everything and she now draws on the experience of loss in her writing. She sets her books abroad and aims to infuse the love and loss with the extremely seductive beauty of the East.

Her latest book, The Tuscan Contessa, marks a new departure for Dinah as it’s her first set in Europe.

Although Dinah and her husband spent five wonderful years living in a small 16th Century village in the Sierra de Aracena in Northern Andalusia, she’s happy to say they now live close to her family in Gloucestershire along with two crazy Maine Coon cats.

My review of The Separation by Dinah Jefferies

If you would like to read another book set in Italy during World War Two you might like The Girl From Venice by Siobhan Daiko.

Published by lizannelloyd

Love history, reading, researching and writing. Articles published in My Family History and other genealogy magazines.

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