It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini
Category: Adult Fiction (18+), 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, but not f-words, religious profanities, or crude terms as described.
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.
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BOOK REVIEW by LAWonder10:
The story opens to the frequent nightmare by Will, when he lived the horror of World War 11. Now he must bury his wife. Through the years, William had become fussy and cranky.
Sophie had lost her parents and grandparents, now, her dog was the only thing resembling family she had left. he is dying. To add to her sorrows, her boyfriend broke up with her for another woman, her "grumpy old man" next door, snoopy neighbor was going to insist on her eviction because of problems with her dog. This is why she was shocked at the compromises he offered her, rather than have her evicted. He was such an aggravating combination of contradictions. She certainly could not agree to some of the compromises... Especially in accompanying him to Italy!
This is a whimsical, entertaining, adventurous story encompassing a varying combination of many emotional situations. The reader will laugh, mesmerize and cry along with this tale. It is a delightful story, but does contain some crude words of a cranky, old military man. There is no "hard core" profanity.
I listened to the audiobook. The Narrator, Susan Fouche, does a outstanding job with her performance and use of various "voices".
I offer a Five Stars rating.
*This audiobook was gifted me with no pressure to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
Inspirations for It Happened in Tuscany Thank you, Lu Ann, for inviting me to post a guest blog!
Some years ago, I read a news article about a World War II veteran who fought in the Philippines. He returned sixty-some years later to find the woman he fell in love with during the war. He not only found, but he also married her, all those years later. The romantic reunion stuck with me.
When I moved to Colorado, I soon learned of the legendary World War II 10th Mountain Division soldiers, the "soldiers on skis." In truth, this elite corps skied, climbed mountains and ice fields, and snowshoed in the coldest, harshest conditions in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They claimed to have the highest average IQ in the military ranks. Recruited from Ivy League colleges' ski teams, U.S. and World ski racers, and the best mountaineers across the country, their task was to fight the Nazis and Fascists on Europe's steep mountains. Their successful, near-impossible night climb up Riva Ridge was pivotal in ending the war in Italy
These two stories intrigued me and captured my imagination. Together, I molded them into the premise behind It Happened in Tuscany. My father and father-in-law were both veterans of World War II.
These two men, raised in very different areas of the United States, shared common traits: -their work ethic, -patriotism, -sense of duty, and -reluctance to speak of their service in the war. I wanted, and needed, to write It Happened in Tuscany to honor my fathers and the 10th Mountain Division soldiers.
Before beginning the manuscript, I researched the World War II 10th Mountain Division and their campaigns and battles in Italy. I also reviewed the photographs I had taken on previous trips to Tuscany and read books by people who lived in Italy during the war. Two things surprised me about Italian's perspective of the war.
1. Many Italians rejoiced when Italy joined with the Allies to fight the Germans. I saw an example of this when I toured the Lupa Contrade Museum in Siena. A post-war Lupa Palio victory poster depicts the victorious Allies—the British, the Italians, and the Americans.
2. Other Italians had mixed emotions, at best, about the Allied liberators. The Allied countries' fighter planes bombed the port cities, train stations, and bridges to cut off the German supply lines. Civilians were collateral damage in these aerial strikes. Allied bombs struck homes and orphaned children. My research revealed that the good people of Tuscany's Val d'Orcia gave food and shelter to many who would have otherwise starved.
I knew these different sentiments of Italians about the Allies gave me an excellent builtin secondary conflict for my novel.
I knew tumbling these three ideas together in a bingo ball cage—searching for a long lost love, a courageous troop who successfully climbed a near-impossible mountain, and Italians with opposing views of the Allies—would create a captivating story.
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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