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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of To Tuscany with Love comes a captivating story of the epic tug-of-war between honor and duty, the irrepressible power of love, and the concept of family.

In 1945, Will Mills and his fellow soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division scaled Italy’s treacherous Riva Ridge in the frigid night to break through the nearly impenetrable German line of defense. Severely wounded, Will was rescued by Italian partisans, and a beautiful girl tended his injuries until he had the strength to rejoin the US troops.

Tormented and haunted by his decisions and actions during wartime, Will knows he has unfinished missions in Italy to complete. The passage of time and years of carrying this unfulfilled need have molded Will into a bitter, angry man.

Seventy-five years later, Will’s spunky 32-year-old neighbor Sophie Sparke faces disaster in her life. Everything is going wrong - her job, love life, and even her dog. Part of the problem is that confident and fiercely independent Sophie lets her quick mouth get her into trouble.

Grouchy, mean-spirited Will finagles Sophie into traveling with him to Tuscany to find the partisan who saved his life. Sophie and Will comb enchanting Tuscan hill towns on an improbable and unfolding mission with few clues to aid them. 

Will’s passionate tenacity drives their quest, and in the process, exposes their darkest secrets. The journey alters the course of their lives, and Will and Sophie find more than they had imagined in the hills of Tuscany.

©2020 Gail Mencini (P)2020 Gail Mencini

What listeners say about It Happened in Tuscany

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It Happened in Tuscany

Will is still troubled about his severe injuries in the war, Will take his quirky neighbor into going to Tuscany with him to find the partisan who saved his life, and hopefully confront the demons he has fought since the war. It was a blast following the two on their journey. With Will’s grumpy old mean spirited attitude and Sophie’s spunky self mixed together there was a lot of humor thought this story. The author does an amazing job detailing their journey to make readers feel like they are there in the moment. I love the vivid descriptions of the scenes in Italy. I’ll never be able to go there but it was sure fun to dream and imagine I was there while listening to the descriptions of the different places. The supporting characters were well thought out and created as well. Over all this is a interesting book to read, while some parts were fun and exciting, others were not so much.
I was able to listen to the Audible copy of this book and I want to comment Susan Fouche on the fabulous job reading this book. Her voice is smooth to listen to and the different voices for the characters brought the story to life in a real way. I appreciate listening to someone who does such a beautiful job. 
A special thanks to the author/publisher for a copy of this book. I am not required to write a positive review, the opinions here are mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Beautifully descriptive, informational, Emotional

This is a grand story about love and honor. It speaks to consequences and responsibilities.
Also about how the same events can be seen differently by various people through their experiences.

The book opens amidst detailed battle scenes in Italy. Graphic and intense, we wonder if and how anyone could survive.
Then we jump three quarters of a century later, where one man who did survive and came home to live a full live, is now saying goodbye to his wife for the final time. Out of respect, his much younger apartment neighbor goes to the funeral.
Sophie's own life is suffering losses in the moment. Her dog is old and facing life ending challenges, her love life has stalemated, and her job become impossible.
So when elderly Will comes up with the implausible idea of running off to Italy to find a woman he loved during the great war, somehow Sophie gets caught up in it and is convinced she must go along.

Their time in Italy is very much like a travelogue, full of beautiful scenery, history and food.
They meet interesting people, but can they find the woman they are seeking? Is she even still alive?
Where does one begin to search?
It all seems futile and Will's age and health are working against them.
Will is also not giving up all of his secrets and information about his history, making their search more difficult.
As they travel Sophie comes to better understand her neighbor and learns insights about her own life.
The ending was quite a surprise to me. It was very emotional, and both sad and positive.

The writing is beautifully descriptive. It made me want to learn more about the history of my own home area and see the world around me with fresh eyes. Food appreciating readers will love this book.
The secondary characters are equally as interesting as our main protagonists.
A satisfying yet surprising book overall.

The narration was superb. The narrator did a marvelous job with accents and differentiating voices.

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This is a poignant, at time whimsical, adventure.

Beginning with a painful memory of wartime in 1943, an elderly man reflected on events of long ago and of "unfinished business" after the death of his wife.
Sofie was enduring the loss of her boyfriend, a dying dog - the only one resembling family who was left, and to "top it off", a cranky next door neighbor. She felt overwhelmed, now she faced being evicted, too, through the complaints of Will, the cranky old man. In order for this cranky, snoopy, old man not to insist on her eviction, he approached her with a few shocking compromises... One which she could never agree to do.
This is a story of regrets, sacrifices, forgiveness, redemption, grief, loss, compassion, humor, love, Italy, and relationships.
The development of the characters by the author are so realistic. The diverse characters, from "grumpy old man" to the gentle, compassionate Christian lady and others in between, are all endearing and are like real humanity. The adventures and various scenes were very well described and easily visualized.
This story never drags. It often incites various emotions, so keep a Kleenex box close. There is some reflection on World War 11. It contains some historical facts.
The Narrator, Susan Fouche, does an outstanding job iwith her performance and in her inflection of the various "voices".

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Readers will be invested

From descriptions of the picturesque landscapes, the nuances of the people, and the rituals of enjoying food and wine, clearly, author Gail Mencini knows and loves Italy. At times, listening to It Happened in Tuscany felt almost like a travelogue, with the richness of the country and the culture of Italy and Italians bubbling out from the story.

“Sunlight filled the space with light and promise.”

It is Mencini’s glorious descriptions that readers will find their wanderlust activated, and that was enough to keep me listening. Aside from the beginning of the story, when we’re on the battleground with young Will during WWII, there isn’t a lot of action; however, the story moves steadily in a direction where we know there will be a resolution, and we’re pretty sure of what it will be given the number of bread crumbs the author drops along the way to lead us there. As the finer points are fleshed-out, readers really won’t mind that they aren’t realistic. We’re just rooting for Sophie and Will to find closure and feel complete.

An interesting and unexpected characteristic of Sophie is that she’s an admitted liar. Well, maybe a better word is embellisher. She recognizes that she does this, and even though it gets her into a pickle (or bruschetta) sometimes, she doesn’t really try to stop the habit. It provides some humor, but it’s also sad as it shows her lack of self-worth and self-confidence after a former boyfriend had demoralized her. Happily, she is working on overcoming the negativity from that relationship, but the lying doesn’t seem to be something she deems needing to fix.

More than anything, what makes It Happened in Tuscany work for readers is the unlikely friendship between Will and Sophie. It’s such a contentious relationship, with a real push-pull of aggravating each other and clinging to each other through empathy & sympathy. Like Sophie, readers can’t bear the thought of Will being disappointed in his pursuit of finding love lost. We’re invested. We want love to find a way. For everyone.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Narrator Susan Fouche, did a good job in performing the voices from dramatic-American Sophie, to crotchety old Will, to the numerous male and female characters who speak English as a second language. The only uneven voicing was of Joe, an American with a sometimes-British accent and/or a flair for also having an Italian accent. So perhaps that was more a difficulty in giving the author’s description a voice. My Goldilocks tendencies did come out as I found the narration too slow at regular speed, but too fast at 1.25x. (Why oh why won’t Audible give us smaller increments like Authors Direct?)

I’ll be watching for other titles by Gail Mencini, and I’d have no hesitation to again read with my ears. But, the book ends with some of Sophie’s favorite recipes, which lends itself better to having the book in print because DROOL.

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An emotional historical fiction you can't put down

This was a story of friendship, hardship, family, and love. I was surprised by the deep emotions this book drew out of me! It was a lovely journey.

We follow Will and his neighbor, Sophie, as they travel to Italy. Their friendship seems impossible, but grows into a bond that is absolutely lovely. I love what an absolute grump Will is. His attitude creates the best payoff for the reader as Sophie works to thaw him and their friendship forms.

book cover "It Happened in Tuscany" with foggy rolling hills
I really enjoyed the descriptions that created a world I could vividly picture. The terrain that the characters are covering throughout the story are described in such detail that you feel like you are right there. It was excellently done!

Overall, this was a really great story. I enjoyed the way the story flowed and the surprising emotions that it brought out in me. I listened to the audio version of this book, and I would highly recommend it! The narrator did an excellent job and was easy to listen to!

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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It Happened in Tuscany

It Happened in Tuscany is a wonderful book by
Gail Mencini. This is the first book I have read by her. Her talent definitely shines through within the pages. She has woven such a beautiful tale. I thought this was a really good story. I loved the beautiful setting, intriguing character and captivating story line. The details are so vivid that I felt like I transported back in time and living right there at the moment. The story is far from being predictable and I never know what would happen next. There were some twists, drama, laughs and enchanting scenes that held my attention from start to finish. I loved every bit of it.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audio version of It Happened in Tuscany. The talented narrator, Susan Fouche, does a fantastic job bringing this story to life. I believe she perfectly portray the characters perfectly. I am so happy to have the opportunity to listen to this version.

I am giving It Happened in Tuscany a well deserved five plus stars. I recommend it for readers who enjoy reading historical fiction. Especially, those that are from the post World War II era. I would love to read more by Gail Mencini in the future. She has earned herself a new fan. This one is most definitely not one to be missed.

I received an audiobook version of It Happened in Tuscany from the publisher. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.