Bright, musically talented with both flute and piano, and extraordinarily sensitive toward animals and people, Rosa Bellocchi has been raised by the nuns in the Convent of Santo Spirito in Florence, Italy. There she was left in 1914 by a man known only as “The Wolf,” with a key wrapped in her clothes the only secret indicating her secret identity. When the other children taunt her for having “no name,” Rosa has her first lesson in learning to survive different levels of cruelty. But Rosa also has an extrasensory gift of being able to see the origin of things, seeing the food before her as a terrified animal being killed or looking and touching a table (or any object) and being able to see where it was made and how it was used by its specific owner.
Rosa then becomes a governess in the Scarfiotti mansion, a haunted place owned by the kind but sad Marchese and the cruel-beyond-words Marchesa, also a fanatical supporter of Mussolini with a disastrous result for Rosa. Her years as a partisan resistance fighter against Mussolini and Hitler’s henchmen are finely depicted when she proves to truly be the indomitable “Raven,” respected by all.
The ever-changing plot and superb character development of Rosa and a former lover are truly phenomenal. One grows to love this female character who evolves from a naive girl into a compassionate, strong and wise mother and eventually a tough partisan resistor capable of cruelty where necessary. The reader receives a full depiction of what it was like to be a patriotic yet fear-filled Italian under the tyrannical Mussolini and later Hitler’s brutal soldiers. Tuscan Rose is a must read for anyone who truly loves great historical fiction.