This past February my book buddy Katherine (who writes at I’d Rather Live in a Library) read and reviewed The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. Her review is HERE and, if I may say, I ought to just point you in her direction as she mirrored my thoughts with this book.
The story is told in two timelines. We go back and forth between present day England and Italy with the bulk of the narrative in 1944 Italy.
in 1973 Joanna Langley returns to her childhood home after her father Hugo dies. While cleaning out his home she finds letters addressed to a woman named Sofia who lives in Italy. It’s clear her father was deeply in love with Sofia yet he never spoke about her or his war service.
Joanna plans a trip to Italy to see if she can locate Sofia and learn more about her father. During her stay she meets a wonderful woman who mothers her and tries to teach her to cook. She also has run-ins with Sofia’s son, now a handsome businessman and heir to an estate by the man who adopted him after Sofia abandoned him.
Or did Sofia abandon her young son? The plot thickens! While it turns into a predictable story line it kept me interested. The end was wrapped up too neatly and wasn’t believable but that doesn’t take away from the overall story. I particularly loved the scenes in Tuscany and all the food and drink. Reading this made me hungry!
There is quite a bit of food mentioned in this book and I think it would make a fine candidate for Cook the Books!
- Roasted lamb
- A soup of beans, macaroni and vegetables
- Bruschetta with chicken liver mixed with anchovy, tapenade and thin slices of fennel with goat cheese.
- Fagioli al fiasco sotto la cenere – white beans cooking with rosemary, sage and garlic. It’s put in a Chianti bottle and cooked slowly overnight in the embers of the dying fire. Spinach, mushrooms and garlic slowly simmering.
- Rabbit ragu started with pancetta, onions, sage, garlic and tomatoes.
- A platter of fresh tomatoes, a slab of white cheese, a few sticks of salami, a bowl of olives and a big crusty loaf of bread.
- Fried zucchini blossoms and artichokes
- Mushroom risotto, aubergine Parmesan and panna cotta
- Limoncello, mussels and clams in cream sauce, Florentine beef steak and a rich almond cake with gelato for dessert.
“Joanna had grown up with simple English cooking – steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, lamb chops and takeaway Indian and Chinese.”
I was planning on the soup and life got in the way so I made the side dish of spinach and mushrooms to go with one of our dinners.
Rhys Bowen in a New York Times best selling author. She was born in Bath England, studied at London University and now lives in the United States. This is my first book authored by Bowen but I would now like to read more. In particular I’d like to acquire In Farleigh Field as the setting is World War II, an era I like to read about.
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