The Tuscan Child

Written by Rhys Bowen
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

Set against the backdrop of the Tuscan hills of Italy, this story is told through dual narrators. One is Hugo Langley, a British bomber shot down in 1944 into a German-occupied area of Italy. The other narrator is Joanna Langley, his modern-day estranged daughter who discovers, after his death, an unopened letter addressed thirty years ago to a woman in Tuscany—a woman that Joanna knows nothing about.

Leaving London for what she is sure will be a short visit, Joanna travels to a small village in Tuscany, where she knows her father’s plane had been shot down. Asking around the town about the woman whose name appears on the envelope, Joanna is baffled that none of the villagers are willing to talk about her. Neither are they willing to admit that a British airman landed in one of their fields and later escaped capture from the Germans.

Determined to get to the bottom of the puzzle, Joanna is aided by a local man whose powerful father wants Joanna gone from the village. As clues turn into startling revelations, Joanna finds that her father and the woman of the envelope together hid a child and had planned to come back and retrieve him. Astounded that she may have an unknown step-brother, Joanna vows to stay until the mystery is solved.

This novel is well plotted with characters that are so compelling, with their attributes and flaws, that the reader can almost feel as if they had sat down and shared a glass of vin santo with them. The ending comes as a complete surprise, which only increased my enjoyment of the entire story.