Friday, July 07, 2023

Blog Tour: Escape to Tuscany by Kat Devereaux


When Tori MacNair's husband Duncan stands in the way of her getting to farewell her grandmother it is the last straw. She takes her inheritance and flees to the Italian city of Florence, a place that holds cherished memories of trips with her grandmother.

Tori needs to spend times healing from her emotional wounds from her marriage, and on a more practical level she needs to get back to work as a writer. She has a book contract to write about her life in the Scotland but that's going to be difficult given that she doesn't even live there anymore. She needs to find a new story to pitch to her impatient agent and publisher...and fast.

Going through her grandmother's papers she comes across some letters which lead her to the story of a famous racing car driver who died back in the 1950s. How can the tragic story of this man be connected to her family? And can Tori find the people who her grandmother always used to visit whenever they came to Florence. Maybe they will help her put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Tori is an interesting character to read about. Sometimes it is difficult to read as she is very damaged. Her marriage has left her without any confidence in herself, having been denigrated and undermined for years. And if her own sister will not believe her when she tells her how unhappy she was, why would anyone else? She needs to find her self belief, and to believe that she deserves to be happy. As she meets people in her new life, can she allow herself to take a chance at happiness. 

This is a dual timeline novel and the historical part of the storyline focuses on a young woman named Stella.  She is a young girl of 14 when we meet her during World War II. She is secretly risking her life by working as a courier for the resistance. Her brother Achille also is part of the resistance organisation and knows the risks she is taking but her parents are blissfully unaware. Through her eyes, we see the techniques used to smuggle arms, illegal newspapers and more. We also are with her in the midst of fighting where Stella is called onto provide medical assistance to her fellow resisters. One of the interesting things is that Stella disappeared from the records in 1945. Will Tori be able to find out what happened to her?

I am going to put it out there that I enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and I read it in a day, or should I say night.  This is the author's debut novel and I will be looking for the next book from her, which will also be set in Italy. Having said that, I did wonder about the indirectness of the link between Tori and Stella in telling the story. It felt kind of forced, or maybe a better way to say it is that it lacked some cohesion. Then again, maybe the fact that it is not as direct as a lot of these books are is a point of difference.

Recently we had a friend around for lunch. The deal was that he would give us some handy tips about travel in Hawaii as we have recently book flights for later in the year,  and we would do the same for him following our recent trip to Southen Italy. Part of the conversation was about whether it would be worth visiting Florence. My advice was absolutely, and reading this book definitely reiterated that for me. 

I am sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy.

Rating 4/5

About the book

Escape to Tuscany

'A rich and engaging vision of life gone by and a lust for one woman's future, rolled into one. And now I want to move to Italy!' Mandy Robotham

A gripping and moving debut novel about two women, decades apart, whose fates converge in Florence, Italy. Perfect for fans of Patricia Wilson, Mandy Robotham and Lucinda Riley.

Only fourteen, Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her town's resistance network during World War II. Risking imprisonment and death, she relays messages, supplies, and weapons to partisan groups in the Tuscan Hills. Her parents have no idea, consumed instead by love and fear for their beloved son, Achille, a courier and unofficial mechanic for a communist brigade fighting the fascists.

Then, after 1945, Stella seemingly vanishes from the records, her name and story overshadowed by the tragic death of her brother - until a young writer arrives in Tuscany in the spring of 2019, uncovering long-buried secrets.

Fleeing an emotionally abusive marriage and a lonely life on an isolated estate, Tori McNair has come to Florence, the beautiful city her grandmother, Margaret, taught her to love, to build a new life. As she digs into her family history with the help of Marco, a handsome lawyer, Tori starts to uncover secrets of the past - truths that stretch back decades, to a young woman who risked everything to save her world....

'A glorious read full of rich detail that made me ache to be back in Italy. I loved the characters and the story.' Liz Fenwick

'Conjures Tuscany so beautifully that I felt I was taking a holiday there whilst reading it. The spirit and atmosphere of Italy simply sizzle from its pages. A true escape!' Fiona Walker

'This moving page-turner is a love letter to Florence - past and present - and filled with all the juicy elements that hist-fic lovers will celebrate: love, passion, history, courage, secrets and second chances.' Lisa Barr, New York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire

'A poignant, emotional novel about love, loss, and new beginnings.' Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance

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About the author –

Kat Devereaux was born near Edinburgh, and lived in the United States, Russia, France, Chile, Germany, and the Czech Republic before finally settling in Italy. She is a writer and translator with a special focus on Italian literature.

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