Published by Viking Books/Penguin
Available in Ebook, Audio and Paperback (23 July 2020)
Source: Review copy
ABOUT THE BOOK
ONE WAR. TWO WOMEN. WILL THEY BE ABLE TO SAVE THE ONES THEY LOVE?
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?
It’s a pleasure to be starting off the blog tour for The Tuscan Contessa. My thanks to Georgia of Penguin for the invitation and for the review copy supplied.
The Tuscan Contessa is set during WW2, from November 1943. The Contessa of the title is Sofia de’ Corsi, living in Costello de’ Corsi with her husband Lorenzo, whose family had owned the beautiful property contained within a walled village for generations. The de’ Corsi’s are a much respected part of the community with Lorenzo working for the Ministry of Agriculture which takes him away from Sofia for long periods.
The Allies advance has been slow and much of Italy is living under German martial law. Italy is not only fighting the war against the Germans but there is also civil war between the Fascists loyal to Mussolini, known as the Blackshirts and the anti-Fascists – the partisans, an underground movement involved in acts of sabotage against the Germans. With different factions against each other, it was hard to know who was spying, who to trust and who would betray you.
Lorenzo is unaware of Sofia’s involvement involving the Costello and doesn’t share her easy going ways or sympathy for the partisans. He would prefer her to stay dignified and neutral as befitting someone in her position. When German officers appear at Castello de’ Corsi, life for Sofia and those around her, take a dangerous turn, worryingly so when one Commandant seems to take a particular interest in Sofia.
Enter Maxine, an American/Italian, sent to Sofia and the Castello to assist with the allied resistance. Maxine is working for the allies by passing on information about the Germans and has a back history of her own which is gradually revealed throughout the story. Unlike Sofia, whose role as ‘lady of the manor’ she took seriously, looking out for friends and neighbours, Maxine wasn’t a character that I took to straight away even if she did eventually grow on me. Although undoubtedly brave, she was headstrong with a reckless nature which could put others in danger and initially I found her rather irritating.
With the story moving between picturesque Tuscan villages, Rome and Florence, history and fiction have been woven together to form a captivating story that shows the best – and worst of human nature. This has all the trademarks of Jefferies’ evocative descriptive narrative but against the shocking and often brutal backdrop of wartime occupation.
The Tuscan Contessa satisfied my love of Italy and WW2 fiction with rich and detailed storytelling coming from extensive research. Bravery and betrayal, sacrifice, love and loss – it is all here. I very much enjoyed this and definitely recommend for fans of this genre.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine. Her idyllic childhood always held a special place in her imagination, and when she began writing novels in her 60s, she was able to return there – first in her fiction and then on annual research trips for each new novel. Dinah Jefferies is the author of novels, The Separation, The Tea Planter’s Wife – a Number One Sunday Times bestseller, The Silk Merchant’s Daughter, Before the Rains and The Missing Sister. She lives in Gloucestershire.