I so enjoyed this book – it is a wonderful mix of honest, painful emotions and romantic literary scenes of beauty. The characters are all beautifully crafted and easy to imagine and each have a specific role that they complete well – there are not wasted words or pages in this book.
The story is divided between the present day and glimpses into the Second World War in Italy – and the reader is moved between the two with care. There are threads and similarities that weave them together although ultimately one story ends much happier than the other. There has clearly been a considerable amount of research to write so eloquently about the experience in rural Italy during the war, and Petch doesn’t pull any punches – with strong storylines and revelations for several characters. There is also a realistic view of what life must have been like after the war, particularly for foreign wives coming to England.
There are lots of great descriptions of food and eating, which makes your mouth water as you read, especially the wonderful local Italian meals. There is great warmth to this book, and it has a very personal feel.
I have already read and reviewed the sequel to this story Now and Then in Tuscany, and certainly feel a great benefit from finding out more about the characters and how they met and found their home. Both books are well worth a read, and if you’d like to find out a little bit more about the author you can read her interview here.