Book Review: One Summer In Tuscany.

cover114921-mediumA visit to Tuscany would be amazing in itself but heading to that region of Italy to attend a creative writing course? Well, that would be the dream.

No wonder I was immediately taken with Domenica de Rosa’s book, One Summer in Tuscany, which not only features both of those things but also takes place in a rustic-sounding castle (sign me up!).

There is much to love about this book even though it’s quite slow to start and, for the sleep addled among us, it’s quite hard getting all the different voices, who take turns narrating, straight at first.

It reminded me of being on a rollercoaster where it builds and builds towards a dramatic and actually rather thrilling finish.

Here’s the blurb:

Patricia Wilson’s carefully composed ads for the writers’ retreat she runs at her thirteenth-century Italian castle promise so much. But while the splendour of their surroundings and chef Aldo’s melanzane never fail to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It’s make or break time for the Castello.

Each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with the inevitable baggage alongside their unpublished manuscripts. But this August something is different, and soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo’s vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing.

As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with ghosts, scorpions, and some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing’s for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this.

The story is skilfully told and not only offers great insight into Italian life but also the creative writing process. I was especially entertained reading the course participants’ efforts at the various writing exercises.

Of course, the setting plays a hugely important role in the book and the vivid descriptions of not just the castello but the places they visit on different excursions really helped to bring the story to life.

All the characters are well developed. There were some I liked more than others but the one I loved the most was Mary. Without spoiling anything it was fantastic to see a more mature character come into her own.

While the ending left me with a huge smile on my face, I did feel, however satisfying it might be, that it was just a tiny bit too perfect with everything sewn up so happily. I would have liked to have seen Patricia, in particular, taken on a different route.

Having said all that, it was an enjoyable read that only strengthened my love of Italy (and creative writing).

Format: Kindle.

Price: 99p.

My rating: Four stars.

With thanks to Quercus Books (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.

My Sunday Photo – June 11th, 2017.

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We’ve just come back from a wet and windy week in a caravan in Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast.

I quite liked listening to the rain on the roof but when the wind kicked in we were a bit worried we might take off!

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Luckily I had looked at the forecast before we went this time and packed appropriately (unlike a previous trip when I forgot to take a coat) so we were able to get out and about, despite the weather (not much keeps us from a beach).

Freya had a blast and particularly enjoyed the disco this time. We also visited a few places we probably wouldn’t have done had it been sunny so all in all it was a great holiday.

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Freya had fun.
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I had fun.
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Mark was excited when the sun finally came out 🙂

I hope you’ve all had a good week too.

To see what other people have submitted for Darren’s fabulous My Sunday Photo link please click on the camera below.

Also, please check back tomorrow because I’ve got another Behind The Book post (a non-fiction author this time who not only has an interesting path to publication but also some fantastic tips for all writers).

Photalife

My Sunday Photo – May 28th, 2017.

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We visited Sheringham Park last Sunday but only when I got home did I realise my camera had been on the wrong setting all day (I thought it was my eyes!).

A couple of them sort of came out ok, including this one.

I hope you’re all safe and well.

Photalife