I’m absolutely delighted to have a novel by Dinah Jefferies back on Linda’s Book Bag, because I love her writing. My enormous thanks to Georgia Taylor at Penguin for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for The Tuscan Contessa.
The Tuscan Contessa was published by Penguin on 23rd July 2020 and is available for purchase through these links.
The Tuscan Contessa
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?
My Review of The Tuscan Contessa
German occupation has taken over Italy.
What an absolute delight to return to a Dinah Jefferies novel. I was expecting an excellent read and I wasn’t disappointed. The Tuscan Contessa has all the typical hallmarks of this author’s atmospheric writing, with vivid appeal to the senses, but this time with a darker and more unsettling edge that I found riveting. With Dinah Jefferies customary strong women living challenging lives, this time the backdrop of WW2’s Italy had an extra layer of menace that I hadn’t been expecting but found so compelling. I adore this type of storytelling.
The research that underpins the narrative is exemplary. I confess I know little about Italy during WW2 as most of my reading has centred on France and the United Kingdom. In The Tuscan Contessa I found a clear sense of the brutality of war at both a national and personal level as well as a vivid sense of history and place that comes through the beautiful descriptions so that I have ended the book feeling thoroughly engaged, entertained and educated.
I thought the sensitive exploration of the possibilities of human reaction to circumstances in The Tuscan Contessa was superb. Dinah Jefferies really made me wonder ‘What if…?’ I have no idea if I could have behaved as Sofia and Maxine do, but their story held me captivated. There’s a convincing cross-section of society from Sofia to Clara so that war’s effect is seen at all levels. I loved the resourcefulness, the weaknesses and the strengths of the women here because it made them all the more real. Maxine’s search for her emotional identity is especially profound and I desperately wanted her and Sofia to have happy endings. Of course, I’m not going to spoil the read by saying if they did!
In The Tuscan Contessa, Diana Jefferies blends initial sumptuous glamour with harsh and realistic reality into an intoxicating read. The sense of place, of history and of human nature is a heady mix in this novel. I thoroughly recommend it.
About Dinah Jefferies
Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine. Her idyllic childhood always held a special place in her imagination, and when she began writing novels in her 60s, she was able to return there – first in her fiction and then on annual research trips for each new novel.
Dinah Jefferies is the author of the novels, The Separation, The Tea Planter’s Wife – a Number One Sunday Times bestseller, The Silk Merchant’s Daughter, The Missing Sister and Before the Rains. She lives in Gloucestershire.
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