Novel set in 1980s Kingston, JAMAICA
Ten Great Books set in TUSCANY
3rd December 2021
Tuscany is the latest destination for us to visit in our Great Books series. Ten Great books set in Tuscany. Tuscany is a region in central Italy. Its capital, Florence, is home to some of the world’s most recognisable Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue, Botticelli’s works in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo basilica. Its diverse natural landscape encompasses the rugged Apennine Mountains, the island of Elba’s beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea and Chianti’s olive groves and vineyards
A liar is not believed when he tells the truth – Tuscan saying
An Italian Affair by Caroline Montague
Italy, 1937. Alessandra Durante is grieving the loss of her husband when she discovers she has inherited her ancestral family seat, Villa Durante, deep in the Tuscan Hills. Longing for a new start, she moves from her home in London to Italy with her daughter Diana and sets about rebuilding her life.
Under the threat of war, Alessandra’s house becomes first a home and then a shelter to all those who need it. Then Davide, a young man who is hiding the truth about who he is, arrives, and Diana starts to find her heart going where her head knows it must not.
Back home in Britain as war breaks out, Alessandra’s son Robert, signs up to be a pilot, determined to play his part in freeing Italy from the grip of Fascism. His bravery marks him out as an asset to the Allies, and soon he is being sent deep undercover and further into danger than ever before.
As war rages, the Durante family will love and lose, but will they survive the war…?
Simonetta by Fay Picardi
Have you ever wondered about who Botticelli chose to depict in his immortal painting Birth of Venus? Was she a real person, his model or his mistress? Most people recognize her image, but few can name her. Even fewer know her personal story. Do you know that her liaisons with the Medici family at the height of the Italian Renaissance caused such a sensation that the intrigue endures today? That Lorenzo de’ Medici wrote love poems to her? That Botticelli asked to be buried at her feet? After years of research, poet and author Fay Picardi carefully unveils the captivating narrative portrait of this fascinating woman and adds enough detail that the reader feels as if he or she is inhabiting Florence during the period of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Alessandra is not quite fifteen when her prosperous merchant father brings a young painter back with him from Holland to adorn the walls of the new family chapel. She is fascinated by his talents and envious of his abilities and opportunities to paint to the glory of God. Soon her love of art and her lively independence are luring her into closer involvement with all sorts of taboo areas of life. On excursions into the streets of night-time Florence she observes a terrible evil stalking the city and witnesses the rise of the fiery young priest, Savanarola, who has set out to rid the city of vice, richness, even art itself.
Alessandra must make crucial decisions about the shape of her adult life, as Florence itself must choose between the old ways of the luxury-loving Medicis and the asceticism of Savanorola. And through it all, there is the painter, whose love will change everything.
The Medici Boy by John L’Heureux
The worlds of art, politics and passion collide in John L’ Heureux’s masterful new novel, The Medici Boy. With rich composition, L Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de Medici. John L’ Heureux’s long-awaited novel delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’ Heureux beautifully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed historical novel that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M Cram
Sofia is trained in secret as a painter in her father’s workshop during a time when women did not paint openly. She loves her work, but her restless spirit leads her to betray her extraordinary gifts to marry a man who comes to despise her for not producing a son.
After Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco during an attack motivated by a vendetta, Sofia realizes she must escape her loveless marriage. She flees to Siena, where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.
Meticulously researched settings and compelling characters are united with a strong heroine in this rich portrait of medieval Italy.
Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson
Gerald Samper, an effete Englishman, lives on a hilltop in Tuscany. He is a ghostwriter for celebrities, and a foodie, whose weird tastes include ‘Mussels in Chocolate and Garlic’ and ‘Fernet Branca Ice Cream’. His idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta, a vulgar woman from a former Soviet republic now run by gangsters, notably male members of her family. She is a composer in a neo-folk style who claims to be writing a score for a trendy Italian film director. The neighbours’ lives disastrously intertwine. The entourages of the rock star and the director come and go: mysterious black helicopters bring news of mayhem in Voynova, Marta’s homeland: and along the way the English obsession with Tuscany is satirized mercilessly.
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn t in the mood for Italy s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She s only there because it was her mother s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
When writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer.
With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and a lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
The Flood by David Hewson
This is a dazzling Italian mystery, rich in intrigue and dark secrets, from an internationally bestselling crime writer at the height of his powers. Florence, 1986. A seemingly inexplicable attack on a church fresco of Adam and Eve brings together an unlikely couple: Julia Wellbeloved, an English art student, and Pino Fratelli, a semi-retired detective who longs to be back in the field. Their investigation leads them to the secret society that underpins the city: an elite underworld of excess, violence and desire. Seeped in the culture of Tuscany’s most mysterious city, The Flood takes the reader on a dazzling journey into the darkness in Florence’s past: the night of the great flood in 1966…
The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle
The narrator is Mary Warren, an American. She has been the victim of a near fatal attack in the Boboli Gardens during which her husband was murdered. Two years later, the suspected murderer having been killed in a car crash, she returns to Florence to be with her lover. More murders occur in these crumbling alleyways of this beautiful city.
We hope you enjoy our selection of books set in Tuscany. If we have missed any of your favourites, just add then in Comments below…
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