Published by Quercus
Available in ebook & Paperback | 1 July 2017
Love, rivalry, and writing in a Tuscan paradise . . . Welcome to the Castello de Luna
High on a hill in the Tuscan countryside stands a castle of golden stone, home to Patricia O’Hara’s writers’ retreat – a serene hideaway where you can polish your prose by the pool, gain inspiration from your peers and eat the best melanzane in Italy, courtesy of chef Aldo. But, while the splendour of their surroundings never fails to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It’s make or break time for the Castello de Luna.
This August each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with emotional baggage alongside their manuscripts. But something is different. It may be just the prosecco, but soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo’s Vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing.
As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing’s for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this.
When I was offered the opportunity to review One Summer in Tuscany and invited to take part in the blog tour I didn’t have to think twice. I adore Italy and almost any book set there will be on my TBR before long. However, I must make one thing clear in case anyone else makes the same mistake as me. It was only after I had read the book and was looking on Amazon for the book blurb to add to my review that I realised the book had previously been published in 2008 as ‘Summer School’. I have a few books by Domenica de Rosa on my bookshelves and sure enough, when I checked my Goodreads list, I have Summer School hiding somewhere in my book collection. Oh well, that’s one more book that I can now delete from the ‘to be read’ list!
Anyway back to the story. Set in the idyllic Tuscan hills, Patricia Wilson’s 18th century home earns its keep (or tries to) by playing host to guests on a residential creative writing course. The two week course includes tuition from author Jeremy Bullen and features sightseeing trips into Rome and Florence as well as the chance to explore the local landscape. For the guests it is a chance to hone their writing skills and to have their writing critiqued by a well-known author however for Patricia, facing the worry of bankruptcy, it is make or break time for her business. Add into the equation, a rebellious and moody teenage son and her Tuscan idyll doesn’t sound quite so perfect.
If the idea of a writing retreat sounds inviting, the diverse mix of guests and the conflict of personalities could scupper the chance of a relaxing time. Not everybody gets along, alliances are formed, and there are hopes of romantic attachments. With guests ranging from a young female ‘yummy mummy’ who is confident that she has written the next best seller, to an elderly spinster who has spent the best part of 30 years writing her crime novel and who has no expectations of it ever being published, the tutor Jeremy begins to despair of seeing a half decent novel or idea from many of his pupils. He was once (and it was only the once!) a best-selling author however in the 20 years since then he has written nothing else and lives off his previous claim to fame.
This is a very easy read and that is meant as a compliment. It is written with a lighter touch however as the story progresses, we learn more about the lives of the characters and their hopes and dreams and there are a few surprises along the way. For my own personal tastes I would have liked to have seen a little more depth to the characters but it was still very enjoyable. The descriptions of the surrounding landscape and countryside are captivating whilst the food prepared by Aldo the chef will make your mouth water.
Over the course of the 2 weeks, the guests spent their time sightseeing, relaxing by the pool, eating and sleeping during the hot afternoons. There doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of writing going on but by the time they return home however, they will have learnt a lot about themselves. Some will realise that their dream of publication is just that, a dream, whilst others will have had a life changing experience.
One Summer in Tuscany would make for a perfect summery read, with a glass of something chilled at hand!
At the time of writing this post, One Summer in Tuscany can be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 99p.
My thanks to Olivia at Quercus for the Netgalley copy to review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
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About the author:
Domenica de Rosa started her career working at the Bookseller, and went on to work in children’s publishing. Under the name Elly Griffiths she is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series of mysteries, and the Stephens and Mephisto mysteries. Domenica is half-Italian and loves the Tuscan coast, although she mainly settles for Brighton, where she lives with her husband, their twins and their cat.