The Tuscan Child was written by Rhys Bowen. This is her second standalone novel, but she is a prolific author of several series of historical mystery novels. I am a big fan of her Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy books, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book.
This novel functions with a dual timeline- half of the story takes place during WWII: Hugo Langley, an English pilot, crashes in the hills of Tuscany. Thirty years later, his daughter Joanna finds a letter among Hugo’s personal papers following his sudden death. She reads something so compelling that she returns to Tuscany to discover the truth about what happened all those years ago.
There are two mysteries here: the reader can deduce that Hugo returns to England following the war, so the question in this part of the timeline is how he goes about keeping himself hidden and escaping the Nazi-occupied region. Joanna’s timeline focuses on the meaning of what her father alluded to in his letter. Are there clues to be found in Hugo’s timeline? How will the villagers react when a foreigner arrives in their enclave with questions about thing that happened so many years ago?
Bowen weaves a cohesive story with her dual timelines, and I was never disappointed when there was a shift in perspective because I saw the potential for more clues. The mystery kept me guessing up until the big reveal, and the outcome was both surprising and satisfying.
I would recommend The Tuscan Child to fans of historical fiction. This is a novel of discovery and it perpetuates the notion that our actions often have a profound affect on the future. Bowen does a fine job with Hugo’s perspective, but she is especially adept with Joanna’s story; I definitely saw shades of Georgie (the heroine of Bowen’s Royal Spyness series) in Joanna. Bowen continues to be one of my favorite authors, and I am looking forward to her next book!
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.