Really enjoyed this book. Joanna's father, Sir Hugo Langley, dies at what once was his family's estate turned boarding school - alone. When she returns to make arrangements, she discovers clues to her father's past during WWII. She travels to a small village in Tuscany, Italy to uncover the secrets her father kept well hidden, she finds the small village is lovely, inviting, but doesn't want to revisit the past. Wonderful friends, food, and suspense. The books switches between two timelines (1944 and 1970's), but it works well. Great read!!
The two timelines of 1944 and 1973 work well in The Tuscan Child, and as I read, I was very pleasantly reminded of other suspense novelists such as Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Kate Morton. Joanna Langley is the type of main character with whom you can easily sympathize: wounded, wary, intelligent, and brave-- and she's willing to learn how to cook. A definite word of warning: if you love Italian food and you're hungry, you will drool when you read segments of this book!
Joanna has a lovely little Tuscan hill village to explore that's filled with interesting characters. Many welcome her, but some do not. And that ancient monastery that was ruined by the Germans is holding plenty of secrets all on its own, although with the clues Joanna has, they aren't going to be easy to uncover.
Bowen's characterization, pacing, and setting are all first rate (par for the course for this talented woman). She's created a two-pronged mystery, and while one part of the puzzle was rather easy to solve, the second one certainly wasn't and took me by surprise. It shouldn't have because the clues are there, but I was too caught up in the story to pay close attention.
If you like fast-paced stories with dual timelines, intriguing mysteries, and mouth-watering food, let yourself be tempted by The Tuscan Child.