Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Blog Tour: The Postcard from Italy by Angela Petch

World War II? Check.

Dual timeline? Check

Lovely cover? Check.

Set in Paris? Hold on a moment.

Whilst it is true that I tend to be quite Paris-centric in my reading, that doesn't mean that I can't expand my horizons on occasion. And with this novel, it's not even the more usual Italian settings of Rome or Tuscany. This time the majority of the story is set in the region of Puglia in the 'heel' of Italy

The book opens when an when an injured man comes out of a coma. He had been cared for by an old man and his grandson.  The old man is very excited. He believes that the injured man is his grandson Roberto who has been off fighting the war. The grandson, Anto, knows that isn't true, but he doesn't know who the man actually is. What Anto does know is that they need to hide "Roberto" to give him a chance to recover from his injuries.

Anto and his Nonno (grandfather) live a very simple life. They fish and grow their own vegetables and pretty much stick to themselves, and as he recovers Roberto helps them out with these tasks. Anto shows him the secret caves in the coastline and he swims to help recover physically. Roberto has flashes of memory but none of it is enough to help him remember who he really is. 

Whilst Roberto can't remember who he is, Anto has his own reason for staying hidden away from outsiders.  But it is isn't possible to remain hidden forever. After Nonno dies, Roberto goes to work in a nearby restaurant to help supplement their income, and it is here that a chance encounter sheds light on who Roberto really is.

In the modern thread of the story, antiques store owner Susannah is grieving the loss of her beloved father, Frank, six months earlier. She is also having to deal with emptying out her grandmother Elsie's house. Elsie is elderly and suffering from dementia and has recently moved into a nursing home.  It doesn't help that Susanna has always known that she isn't her grandmother's favourite person. She has no idea why Elsie doesn't like her. Just that she doesn't.

Whilst cleaning out the house Susanna comes across an envelope that contains a postcard with a picture on it and a mysterious message. The image on the card matches a painting that has hung on the wall and Susanna is sure that if she can find the location then she can find out what the message was about and who it was from. And maybe, she can get some answers about her own life as well. After all, she can't ask Elsie who gets distressed quite easily and doesn't seem to be making sense if she does answer any questions.

With her loyal friend Maureen looking after the antiques shop, Susanna heads to Italy to see if she can unlock her grandmother's secrets. And if she gets some much needed rest and relaxation and maybe some romance as well that's a bonus.

I really liked how the threads of the two stories came together. As is generally the case if you asked me to choose I would say that the historical part of the story was my favourite, but that is no surprise to me.

Image from Wikipedia

I really enjoyed the book. I was fascinated by the setting of. The author mentioned houses that are called trullo  - round houses with conical roofs and trabucco which are used for fishing, and I found myself googling. Lots of trullo (or trulli for multiple trullos) in the Puglia region are now bed and breakfasts or hotels. It would definitely be a more unusual destination to visit in Italy.  Maybe we will get to go to visit one day.

I hadn't read this author before. In this book, she was inspired by her late uncle who was a rear gunner and died in a plane crash during WWII.  She has four other books set in Tuscany as well as a couple of others. I am definitely planning to keep an eye out for her other books. It's clear that Petch knows and loves Italy. It shines through on the pages.

Oh, and I think that the cover gods were definitely smiling on this book! The cover is lovely. Makes me feel as though I am there instead of sitting at my desk!

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the review copy of this book.

About the book:

Italy, 1945. ‘Where am I?’ The young man wakes, bewildered. He sees olive trees against a bright blue sky. A soft voice soothes him. ‘We saw you fall from your plane. The parachute saved you.’ He remembers nothing of his life, or the war that has torn the world apart… but where does he belong?

England, present day. Antique-shop-owner Susannah wipes away a tear as she tidies her grandmother’s belongings. Elsie’s memories are fading, and every day Susannah feels further away from her only remaining family. But everything changes when she stumbles across a yellowed postcard of a beautiful Italian stone farmhouse, tucked away in Elsie’s dressing table. A message dated from World War 2 speaks of a secret love. Could her grandmother, who never talked about the past, have fallen for someone in Italy all those years ago?

With Elsie unable to answer her questions, Susannah becomes determined to track down the house and find a distraction from her grief. Arriving at what is now a crumbling hotel by the sparkling Italian sea, she feels strangely at home. And after an unexpected encounter with handsome wine waiter Giacomo, she can’t tell if it’s his dark eyes or his offer to help solve her mystery that makes her heart race.

Together they find a dusty chest tucked in a forgotten corner of the building. The white silk of a World War 2 parachute spills out. And the Royal Air Force identity tag nestled in the folds bears a familiar name…

With Giacomo by her side, and before it’s too late for her grandmother, can Susannah discover the truth behind a shocking wartime secret at the heart of her family? Or will it tear her apart?

An absolutely stunning page-turner that will sweep you away to the olive groves and majestic views of the Italian coast. Perfect for fans of Kathryn Hughes, Fiona Valpy and Victoria Hislop.
About the Author:

Published by Bookouture, Angela Petch is an award-winning writer of fiction – and the occasional poem.

Every summer she moves to Tuscany for six months where she and her husband own a renovated watermill which they let out. When not exploring their unspoilt corner of the Apennines, she disappears to her writing desk at the top of a converted stable. In her Italian handbag or hiking rucksack she always makes sure to store a notebook and pen to jot down ideas.

The winter months are spent in Sussex where most of her family live. When Angela’s not helping out with grandchildren, she catches up with writer friends.

Angela’s gripping, WWII, Tuscan novels are published by Bookouture. While her novel, Mavis and Dot, was self-published and tells of the frolics and foibles of two best-friends who live by the seaside. Angela also writes short stories published in Prima and People’s Friend.




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