In 1943, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful Tuscan villa among the olive groves is upturned by the sudden arrival of German soldiers. Desperate to fight back, she agrees to shelter a wounded British radio engineer in her home, keeping him hidden from her husband Lorenzo – knowing that she is putting all of their lives at risk.
When Maxine, an Italian-American working for the resistance, arrives on Sofia’s doorstep, the pair forge an uneasy alliance. Feisty, independent Maxine promised herself never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome partisan named Marco, she realizes it’s a promise she can’t keep…
Before long, the two women find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis. Will they be discovered? And will they both be able to save the ones they love?
What I Thought:
I think, so far, I’ve read four or five of Dinah Jefferies’ books and her work just gets better and better. Although The Tuscan Contessa moves away from her more familiar settings of the Far East, it is just as compelling and has clearly been deeply researched.
I always think historical novels carry a higher level of work, purely because the author has to not only keep in mind the location, but also the language, technology, clothing and many more factors of the period. This is always outstanding in Dinah Jefferies’ books and so too here.
I’m a sucker for a war story but this book touches on a side of World War 2 that people are less familiar with than D-Day, the French resistance and the French campaign – in this book, we see the war in Italy and the work of the Italian partisans in and around Tuscany.
It’s always heartening to read about the contribution of women to the war effort – the popular perception of WW1 and WW2 is that they were very much – for obvious reasons – about the men but, whether they were frontline nurses, working at Bletchley Park or – as in this book – providing whatever support they could through their homes and connections, women were instrumental in winning the war.
I was lucky enough to take part in the book launch for The Tuscan Contessa – via Zoom in these strange times – and one of my fellow participants noted that Dinah Jefferies is ‘the colourful author’ and I think I would agree. The colours of Tuscany are beautifully brought to life in her descriptions of the location. It’s easy to picture the places the characters inhabit as they are cleverly brought to life.
Dinah Jefferies also mentioned at the launch that she does a huge amount of research on her books, including travel to the locations and reading widely. You really can tell the depth of research she does, without it ever feeling like you’re being lectured to – it’s a great skill to be able to create a truly immersive novel and that is exactly what she does.
Another recommended title from Dinah Jefferies – she said at the launch that she was already working on her next book… I can’t wait!
The Tuscan Contessa is published by Penguin.
This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of The Tuscan Contessa. To find more reviews and exclusive content, please do visit some of the blogs below:
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.