Tuscan Roots

“Everybody came to the stable not only to celebrate our marriage, but the end of the terrible years of war. In my excitement I wasn’t hungry enough to do the meal justice but my eyes feasted on the spread. I couldn’t remember when I had last seen such an amount of dishes: plates of ham, preserves of walnuts, zucchini, aubergines and mushrooms, wild salad leaves from the meadows, sprinkled with grated truffles, roasted pigeons, pork, chickens and a whole boar. The wine flowed, faces grew redder, jokes became bawdier and then the music started. My father lifted his accordion onto his shoulder and after a rusty start, the music sang into the air. The planks that had served as tables were cleared from their supports, the leftovers tidied away into baskets to be carried home by our guests and the dancing started.
‘You’ll have to show me the steps,’ my husband whispered to me as we moved into the empty circle of smiling faces. ‘The dances are different from the ones I know.’
He clutched onto me as if he was about to fall and our first waltz wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, but it didn’t matter as the floor soon filled up with other dancers and we were swept round the room.
‘Thirsty work, this dancing,’ Norman stopped and a couple bumped into us. ‘And my leg is hurting.’ He led me from the dance floor to the corner of the stable where most of the men were congregated round barrels of wine. Some of them were already unsteady on their feet and they clapped him on the shoulders, congratulating him and pumping his hand up and down again. I watched him knock back a couple of beakers and then I joined Mamma. Just for today she had changed out of her black mourning clothes, worn since Davide’s death, but her best Sunday frock of blue polka dot hung off her and her face was sad. As I went over, she patted the empty chair beside her and I took her hand in mine. The music was too loud for talk but we both understood what lay in our hearts.”

Norman and I were escorted to our bedroom with songs and laughter. The bed was strewn with flowers and my mother had laid out her best nightdress for me on the pillow.
     ‘Carry her in, Norman, carry her in,’ our guests shouted.
     Norman was embarrassed too and whispered that he couldn’t wait for them to leave, to be alone with me. But when we were on our own, I was suddenly afraid, remembering my mother’s words by the river.
     ‘I’ll leave you for a few minutes, Ines,’ Norman said.
     He closed the door and I undressed, shivering a little in the cooler night air. I lowered the flame on the lamp and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. There had been no mirror in the bedroom I had shared with Nonna and I had never seen my naked reflection. My breast were full and the triangle of hair between my legs was obvious in the gloomy light.”

If you like Italy, you should enjoy this love story with a difference, full of passion, Italian flavours and sensations. The author lives in this beautiful country and is a fluent speaker, so able to get beneath the surface of stories with her research. Essentially, it is a story of two women living in two different times. In 1943, in occupied Italy, Ines Santini’s sheltered existence is turned upside down when she meets Norman, an escaped British POW. At the turn of the Millennium, Anna Swilland, their daughter, starts to unravel her dead mother’s diaries in Britain. She travels to the beautiful Tuscan Apennines, where the story unfolds. In researching her parents’ past, she will discover secrets that change her life forever. The story shows how war can divide and unite people of differing backgrounds, transporting the reader from the Italian hills of the Resistance (a little featured aspect of the Second World War in fiction) to the greyness of post-war London. There are vivid and authentic descriptions of both the rural landscape and the way of life, combining real fact with fiction to produce an atmospheric tale of love and war.
I’m British but a bit of a wanderer: born in Germany, I’ve lived and worked in Italy, Holland and Tanzania, East Africa. Everywhere, I gather stories and, having been a serious bookworm all my life, I’ve now written two historical romances of my own.

Julia Gregson (bestselling author or “East of the Sun”: “moving and interesting…Angela has a very vivid, natural and direct way of writing …moving and interesting about the Italian parts of the war.” 

“Writing to aspire to…”Alexander Kreator.

“This was a very touching love story, told in two very different eras. Angela writes with a wonderful sense of place, her descriptions of the Tuscan countryside and the food made me feel I was right there. The journey Anna takes to discover the truth about herself and her past is truly gripping and I was always eager to get back to the story and discover what would happen next. I haven't read about the war from the Italian perspective before, which made this novel different to other wartime stories. Well done to Angela, and may she write many more enthralling novels!”

Over 40 reviews appearing on Amazon UK site.