Strangers who become friends…

Yesterday was publication day for fellow author, Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie and I haven’t met yet in reality and I haven’t been able to read her new book yet but it is on my list. She runs a popular Facebook group: Lizzie’s Book Group and is a very supportive and fun lady. But I’ll talk about that aspect of social media after I’ve introduced you to The Woman who Felt Invisible – only 99 pence at the moment on Amazon.

Have you ever felt invisible? 

Working as a stationery supervisor and a sitter to a pair of internet famous, delinquent dogs, wasn’t how former cyber-specialist, Olivia, imagined her life turning out. 

Working in a tiny cubicle with a decrepit computer and being overlooked had suited her for a while, but now she’s fed up, lonely and determined to make the world ‘see’ her again. 

Old school friend, Darius, wants to fill Olivia’s days with romance, but their love of technology has taken them on very different paths. 

Gorgeous undercover policeman Gabe, is steadfast in finding out if Olivia was part of an online scam, but something doesn’t feel right and he suspects someone else was manipulating her life. 

Can love blossom from the most deceptive of starts? And can someone who feels lost, find a way to flourish against all odds?

Now – many people moan about social media; don’t want to have anything to do with it. I certainly don’t like being approached by dubious-sounding colonels or supposed widowers who want to get to know me better. And don’t talk about hackers… But – and this is a big BUT, I do love to communicate and engage with fellow authors and other interesting people. So a huge thank you to “social” (as Italians call it here).

As you may already know, in Italy I live in a fairly remote valley. No writing groups to join, festivals too distant, but I have managed to remedy this with friends who mostly remain virtual. (Too many to mention here).

Last week in the beautiful city of Siena, I met two in the flesh. One is Chiara Borghesi, a fascinating blogger who teaches Italian in a unique way, bringing in lots of detail about Italian lifestyle. Check her out on Facebook under Chiaras Tuscany Experiences – Language & Lifestyle Experiences.

In addition she runs an online bookclub (Chiara’s Tuscany Bookclub) and regularly posts beautiful and fascinating images on Instagram @chiarastuscany. If you want to learn Italian in a refreshingly different way, then look no further. (Chiara is the lady in the middle of my photo).

Another author was with us who lives in Italy was with us. Fay Henson’s book is set in Tuscany. Headstrong in Tuscany is aimed at a late teen readership. A good idea for a stocking filler? Fay is holding her novel in the photograph.

It felt so good to meet up and we chatted away, with the help of pasta and wine. I would never have come across these ladies without social media. Grazie!

I have found the writing community on social media so warm and helpful. As I have said, I couldn’t possibly mention everyone here, but I have to give a special nod to lovely fellow-author Jessie Cahalin who I met on Twitter initially, when she started off her Books in Handbag blog.

(I was attracted to her handbag icon). She filled me with confidence when I self-published my second book – A Tuscan Memory – which Bookouture later took on. I shall forever be grateful to this lovely friend for her encouragement and shall never ever forget our first meeting – we ran across the room at the RNA conference and hugged each other. It should have been set to music…

Jessie is concentrating on her own writing more now and so she should. There are wonderful moments in writing, but there are downers too, when an author feels very lonely and lost. So to have motivation from like-minded people who understand the peaks and troughs too well, is manna. I also have my super author friends, at Apricot Plots and we zoom when we can. It is such a treat to link up from Italy to other corners of the world and thrash out worries and ideas. And laugh together. Laughter is an important ingredient in the writing process.

A couple of my Apricot Plot friends at the RNA Conference: Carol Thomas and Jane Cable

So, a HUGE THANKYOU to all my social media friends, bloggers and all. You are the tops!

I’m sure there are many stories to be shared about friends made via social media or events discovered. I would love to hear about them in the comment box. Two weeks ago I met up with a couple of Italian gentlemen (for research purposes… behave, everybody!) One a university professor, an expert who has been able to help me with my next book and the other, a relative of victims in a dreadful World War Two massacre in our corner of Tuscany. Both these people were discovered on social media and we have become friends in the real sense. Liked both ways!

Professor Ermanno Torrico and Giorgio Gabrielli comparing notes

So, back to Lizzie and her writing. She has an impressive record and I wish her the best of luck with her latest publication. I shall review it after I have read it. It looks like another uplifting stocking filler.

International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at http://www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.

Book links:

Universal book buy link: The little ice cream shop: viewbook.at/IceCreamShopByTheSea

Universal book buy link: Networking for writers: viewbook.at/NetworkingForWriters

Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours

Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewbook.at/NinjaSchoolMumRomance

Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven

Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild

Universal book buy link: Finding Gina: viewbook.at/FindingGina

Shh… It’s Our Secret: https://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Chantree_Shh_Its_Our_Secret.html

The woman who felt invisible: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09J98F32J

Social media links:

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Good luck, Lizzie and thanks for being a friend. Maybe one day we shall meet up too.

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Mists of time …

I’m writing this on Remembrance Day, November 11th. It’s misty and a little melancholy outside. The mountains are veiled, the peaks snagged with clouds. It reminds me of a local saying:

“ Quando l’Alpe mette ‘l cappellovende le capre e compra ‘l mantello.”

Time (when the mountain puts on its hat) for the shepherds and herdsmen to sell their goats and buy a cloak for the ten-day walk down to the coastal plain. I wrote about this in A Tuscan Memory but the shepherds used to leave at the end of September, not November. They are long gone, not only because the practice died down in the 1950s. There are not many shepherds left in our mountains. Too many wolves and youngsters are not enamoured with the harsh working conditions of the past.

It’s drawing close to our departure from Tuscany as well. This year has been a little strange for everyone – the epidemic still clinging on, and there’s been a temptation to console myself with, ‘Let’s hope it will be better next year.’

But a lot of joyful events have happened during our shorter stay here this summer. And it’s wrong to wish life away. I think all of us should live in the now. “Don’t count the days, make each day count.”

 We had three of our grandchildren to stay and the sound of laughter and young voices echoed down the river. They were drawn to the water like magnets and all three managed to get completely wet within five minutes of nearing it: fishing and jumping from stone to stone. They enjoyed old fashioned games that dragged them away from the screen. We visited an ancient castle high on the hill and they found a fascination in the torture implements. Boys will be boys…

There was a Roman project for school to complete and we took Luca to Sestino, an important Roman stopover in the mountains nearby. House building is constantly held up in this tiny town because of Roman artefacts being unearthed. I will gift a copy of one of my books to the first person who can tell me the story behind the photograph below. What was this pot used for in Roman times? (Winner has to live in UK).

Guess the use of this Roman pot.

It was a joy too this autumn to meet up with a history professor from Urbino university. He knew my husband’s grandfather really well. What a shame that our relatives did not share much about their war experiences with us. It’s understandable when you dig deeper and discover what they went through.

Maurice at the foot of the torricini of Urbino, beloved birth-place of his mother

Maurice had inherited a box of old documents kept meticulously by his Nonno over the years and dating back to the 1930s. Professor Torrico has pored over them over the past weeks and this weekend we shall enjoy a lunch here with him and his family while he explains better. He was able to reveal more about Nonno’s courage during the war. A fervent socialist all his life, Nonno hated having to sign up to the Fascist party and neglected to do so for as long as possible. The Resistance persuaded him to stay on: he would be more use to them if he remained (ostensibly) within the party. Nonno’s story has inspired me to write another World War Two book. I hope I can do his story justice. Wish me luck.

Within the next few days we shall say goodbye to the autumn mountains as they start to shed their fiery leaves. It has been breath taking to walk in the forests. Another positive to be taken from the negative, as we are not usually here at this time of year.

A presto! Speak soon – the next time, from Blighty.

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A chat with Jane Cable aka Eva Glyn

Tomorrow sees publication of a new book by my good friend, Jane Cable. We used to belong to Chindi Authors and are on similar writing journeys and it was good to catch up with her on the night before The Missing Pieces of Us makes it appearance. I love the clever cover.


Jane, you wrote this under a pen name: Eva Glyn. But you also write as Jane Cable. I’m wondering if you do this for different genres and if so, was it your decision or your publisher’s?

As Jane Cable I’m known for romances with a slightly ghostly twist and their feet firmly in the past. One More Chapter wanted something broader, to include women’s fiction, and certainly nothing spooky, so knowing Jane Cable had contractual commitments to fulfil elsewhere I decided on a new name.

Eva was my father’s mother’s name, and he was a writer too. And Glyn is borrowed from the Welsh novelist and poet Glyn Jones who was a close family friend. It’s a constant reminder of the high bar I’ve set myself.

That is so lovely: that you are continuing the family name and honouring a past friend’s writing skills at the same time.

We were indie publishers (in fact, I am hybrid). What do you think are the positives and negatives?

I did like the control over the whole process that being an indie author brought. You were never in anyone else’s hands over title, cover, pricing… but I think when we were doing it the market was less crowded and it was easier to make an impact. The biggest negative for me was it meant your book lacked the affirmation of having been acquired by a publisher, and that might not matter so much to readers, it just mattered to me. There was a constant question in the back of my mind as to whether I was really good enough.

Spot on! It’s a lonely business and the marketing and technical side is very hard for me. To try and reach a wider market is a struggle and I do admire indie publishers who go it alone. The Missing Pieces of Us was originally published as The Faerie Tree. Which title do you prefer? Did you have to make many changes and if so, was it hard to come to terms with the changes?

I changed the title myself, before submitting the book to One More Chapter. I worked on it during the first lockdown because I felt an uplifting novel dealing with how people cope with grief and loss might be something readers wanted, given everything we were all going through. The new title felt more modern, somehow, and the book needed that. But when I looked inside the pages I found very little else that I wanted to update. All my editor at One More Chapter asked me to do was expand on the impact of finding out whose memory was wrong, and the recovery from that, which was something I was delighted to do.

Your books deal with very poignant issues. They are not always easy reads, but always beautiful, intelligent and complex.  And you often include the spiritual. In The Missing Pieces of Us, how symbolic is the faerie tree? How real is it?

The faerie tree is absolutely real and was the starting point for the book. It stands near the River Hamble in Hampshire, just as it does in the story, and I was taken there by a friend one April many moons ago. I knew it had stories to tell, but for a while I wasn’t quite sure what they were, although I wanted the book to be an inspiration for anyone suffering from mental health problems that recovery was possible and there could be a rich and fulfilling life ahead. The strength of the oak, the way it bends, breaks but ultimately survives the storms, spoke to me that way.

I love these images of the woods and the faerie tree, just as I pictured from your descriptions in your wonderful book.

You have an amazing review (amongst many others). One reader, Jayne, writes: “At one point… I found myself unconsciously kissing the cover because of the loveliness of the section I had just read.” How wonderful! How do you deal with poor reviews?

Honestly, as far as reviews are concerned, I take the rough with the smooth. The Missing Pieces of Us had some shockers on Netgalley (where as you know ‘professional’ readers review books), but they had been brilliant on there for The Faerie Tree and the book hadn’t changed that much.

I think you are very skilful at writing love scenes. In The Missing Pieces of Us, we read about “a slow, sensuous affair, the softness of Robin’s fingers trickling over my skin and lodging deep into the corners of my mind…” To me, this reads as if it was an easy passage to write. But was it?

Thank you! That’s a lovely compliment, because there is always a certain amount of angst that goes into writing love scenes as I don’t like anything to be too specific unless it is essential to the story. Here I wanted to contrast their love-making with what had gone before – and what came after. Izzie needed to remember a Robin she would want to fall in love with all over again.

Thank you so much for chatting, Jane. It reminds me of the times spent together with you at RNA Conference, talking to our hearts’ content about writing. Good luck with your fabulous book and wishing you oodles of inspiration and ideas for the future.

Chindi friends, Angela Petch, Carol Thomas and Jane Cable

The Missing Pieces of Us is available across all ebook formats and will be published in paperback by One More Chapter on 14th October. You can find out more about Eva Glyn’s books at www.evaglynauthor.com, or follow her on Instagram (@evaglynauthor) or Bookbub @EvaGlyn.

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When life gives you peaches…

We are in Tuscany again, far later than usual, since the dreaded C impeded us and a glorious wedding delayed us.

Our youngest daughter married in a celebration that was a family affair, very home-made and happy, and one day later we drove through France and northern Italy, vaccinated and tested to the hilt, all proper documents to hand, to reach our Tuscan home.

Italy is always a gift to our souls. Straight after our five-day quarantine, a friend arrived from the coast bearing crates of peaches, apricots and plums. The cleaning of our house that had been shut for eight months was put on hold. When life gives you peaches, you have to eat them and make jam…

The cleaning done and a first-aid attempt made on the wild and tangled garden, we were invited to a concert. On top of a mountain, at 1,000 metres. That we walked to. Where a professional singer sang to the notes of a grand piano. Which had been transported up there in the back of a van. It was sublime and worth the two-hour walk, through woods and along mule tracks. We were interviewed for a local television station.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg9udBAQxoU

Sunset at La Spinella, after the concert, as we sipped wine.

 Two days later, we were off to Ravenna to celebrate our forty-fourth wedding anniversary and to see the famous UNESCO mosaics again, dating from the fifth and sixth centuries.

“Mosaiced-out”, we wandered round the streets, drinking in the sights, sounds and delicious smells. We have found, as from last year too, that our Italian friends are very careful and wary of the epidemic. Masks have to be worn inside public places and proof of double vaccination shown to visit museums or to eat inside. It is called a Green Pass in Italy but so far our NHS Apps have always worked.

And then life gave us flamingos…

Grazing and flying wild in the salt pans outside the city of Cervia. We’ve seen them wild when we lived in Tanzania, but this is the first time in Europe. It was surreal and a magical end to our escape.

On the writing front, I have submitted my next book to my lovely editor at Bookouture. But as for the next project, my mind is not ready at the moment. Having just finished a gloriously picaresque novel, which I believe I was meant to read at this time (I believe in this kind of thing – call it serendipity) : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miss-Bensons-Beetle-uplifting-friendship/dp/0552779482/

I am not unduly worried. But I do yearn to write something different.

At the end of this novel, I read about the inspiration behind this unusual story, described as “charmingly eccentric”. The author’s lines struck a chord with my present mood:

“The reasons why you choose to tell a certain story are not always clear. I like to compare the first stages of writing to finding a house in the woods that has no windows and no doors. You long to go inside, but you have no idea how, so all you can do is keep circling it, trying to find the tiniest crack.” RACHEL JOYCE

I haven’t found that house in the woods yet. But I feel sure I will and in the meantime, I am circling with open wings;  not forcing it. I shall let Italy sink into my soul and see what happens. Ideas are never far away. Plaques on buildings, notice boards – there is always something to whet my appetite and stir interest.

Wish me luck!

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Ordinary people, extraordinary events…

I haven’t found a lot of time to read recently. My latest book is going through labour pains but I’ve taken a pause and our local library is open again. Joy!

So, I picked up a book that is quite slim, the cover attracting me. The style of dress on the attractive woman from the immediate post-war era, the background of the sea tempting.

I loved, loved this book and give it five stars without hesitation. It’s literary in style but very accessible too. On the front cover, the tagline from The Daily Telegraph sums up Anita Shreve’s style: “Her sentences contain whole universes.”

In my stories I too like to depict ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. War, for example. Most of us are nosy. We want to peer into other people’s lives and see how they cope, what they get up to.


Set in the immediate post-war years, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of an ordinary young mother of two little ones, trapped in a difficult marriage. In 1947, a woman’s place was in the home and the thought of years stretching endlessly ahead, spent with a man who has been mentally scarred, turned cruel by the war, is grim.
The title of the book is beautiful, taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and summarises the story perfectly:

Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth not move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt that I love.”


Those lines are a story in themselves, aren’t they? How many story versions do they inspire? I try to picture the moment when Anita Shreve had her light-bulb moment for her book. Was she lying in a hammock, overlooking the ocean, reading Shakespeare and those lines jumped out? Was she at the theatre and hearing those words, needed paper and pen immediately and had to ask the person sitting next to her if she could borrow his programme to scribble down a plot?

I ask these questions because I’m drawing to a close with my own work in progress and I have no new ideas for another book at the moment. Maybe it’s because my brain is tired. Perhaps I want to write a different kind of book set in a different era from my last books. My head is telling me to switch off, to leave my laptop alone, get out there and let the ideas come to me unforced. Panic is sitting on my shoulder whispering to me: ‘You’re all written out. Let it be for a while.’ Perhaps I should listen. We are due to return to Italy mid August, after our daughter’s wedding. Tuscany beckons. Maybe she will work her magic. I hope so. I don’t like being barren of stories. Not one little bit.

Il mulino inspires me

But to return to The Stars are Fire

Aptly named Grace, the heroine of Shreve’s story, is mostly accepting of her fate but then a fire ravages through her hometown, destroying houses and lives. Her unpleasant husband, a volunteer fireman, disappears and is assumed dead. Grace’s life opens up when she is forced to find a means of survival. Enter two very different men and the story continues.

Homeless, she moves into her deceased mother-in-law’s large house by the sea. What a location. The descriptions are similar to the crumbling mansion in Great Expectations. But slowly, Grace revives the place and discovers secrets which prove useful to her.

The present tense is used for this story. It makes Grace and her plight so immediate. Not every reader likes this tense, I have noticed but it is ‘breathy’, makes Grace close and personal and fits the story very well. It’s a short book by usual standards, but perfectly formed, beautifully written and I am now a huge fan of this writer. I have read some reviews that complain about parts of the story being left in the air. That’s fine by me. I like a book that opens up questions. Life is not neat and tidy. The story can continue in our heads.

I’d love to hear from other authors who might be in my same position of floundering for new ideas. I’ve tried all the tips about cutting out newspaper articles, listening to songs, eavesdropping on conversations, recording my bizarre dreams. But so far nothing has chimed with me. When I hear writers say that they have twenty-four new ideas to write after they’ve finished their present book, I try not to compare myself, but it’s not easy.

In the meantime, before submitting my manuscript to my lovely editor at Bookouture, I am delighting in other authors’ books. They are not latest issues because I have a lot of catching up to do. (I won’t confess how many books are stored unread on my Kindle). I am going to Venice in the next one. Rosanna Ley was also put into my bag at the library visit. I shall report back but I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the journey.

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Discombobulated…

I went for a walk early on Saturday morning. Walking is my go-to tonic. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little confused, frustrated. Anxious about what to do next. And a couple of health issues have dragged me down as well. That word discombobulated fits my mood. An American-English verb, apparently it originated in about 1934 as a humorous word to imitate hi-falutin-sounding Latin words. Other similar words are confusticate (1852) and absquatulate (1840). I wonder what my editor would think if I used these in my next book? I do love unusual words but they can throw a reader…I’d love to hear some of your favourite, unusual expressions.

But I digress.

At this time of year, we are usually living in Tuscany but you and I know that spanners have been thrown in the works after the last eighteen months or so. I had planned a couple of research trips for my next book, which is set in southern Italy. And this is hampering me. I know that writers use “what if” as a tool for their imagination. But in this instance, that question has been leading me down the wrong paths.

‘What if we don’t manage to get to Italy this year?” Google search does not quite do it for me. I like to be in the places I write about. I need the sensory details and the stories that come to me unexpectedly: from talking to locals, coming across plaques in the street or festivals commemorating an event, tasting local food, glimpsing a corner of a town that inspires me.

“What if my imagination dries up and I can’t write another book? Will my publishers say goodbye to me?” Those two monkey words have been plaguing me recently. My walk was early this morning. The air was fresh and I could literally smell the roses in people’s front gardens. The scent distracted me from my pesky me-me-me thoughts.

There was hardly anybody else about, little traffic and a blackbird’s song was a joy as I walked to my appointment. Gardens brimmed with colour and along a footpath, wild flowers beckoned to me and I stopped to snap images on my phone.

In the park, young children congregated for a cricket match by the elder trees, their blossoms telling me it was time to make more cordial. Cricket is not played in Italy and the whole morning was turning out to be very English.

I passed a semi-derelict bungalow near the sea, weeds tangling its front path and I saw what I presumed was a dog stretched out in the sun: thin and long, its ribs protruding from a dull red coat. It was a fox. When I stopped to make sure, he lifted his head and looked at me as if to say: “Yes, I’m a fox. What about it? I have as much right to be here basking in the morning heat as you have to walk the pavements.”

My morning’s walk was giving me messages. Live in the now. Look around and enjoy what you see. Don’t banish the present through worries about the future. Stop and feel. Be grateful for what you have. I was early for my appointment and I did just that when a bench invited me to sit for a while.

Sometimes it’s hard to climb out of yourself. I needed to hear these messages. Yesterday we were at our granddaughter’s sixth birthday party – balloons, pass-the-parcel, rainbow cake and all. And my appointment this morning? To talk to the hairdresser to see how to arrange my hair for our youngest daughter’s wedding this August. How lucky am I?

This year, Italy will have to wait three months until we arrive. What is there to worry about?

On my noticeboard in the kitchen, I scrawled this sentence when I returned home. A reminder to myself to take each day as it comes.

And as if by magic, the postman dropped a parcel through the door. It was sent by a special friend. I unwrapped it and the words were like a hug. You know who you are. Thank you so much. xx

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Angela Petch – My Garden In Tuscany

It was fun to share my garden on an author friend’s site. Thanks so much, Morton Gray. Grazie!

Morton S. Gray - Author

This week I’m joined by Angela Petch who has written a series of books set in Tuscany for Bookouture. Her latest release is The Tuscan House. Angela is talking to us today about her garden in Tuscany which looks absolutely gorgeous. Over to Angela

Our Tuscan garden started from a field. And most of the top soil had been washed away by the river gushing over its banks in a freak flood from the river Marecchia that runs alongside our land. Over the past twenty years we have slowly created a (wild) garden from what we were left with.

There are advantages: part of our garden is a meadow and now wild flowers and orchids bloom on bed rock where once there was a flourishing vegetable garden. Our local Italian friends cannot understand why we do not restore all this, but we love the flowers.One edge of the…

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The Tuscan House – Angela Petch

I am so grateful to all bloggers who take the time and trouble to post their reviews. And, this lady has gone to so much trouble, with her photos and words about The Tuscan House. Mille grazie

On The Shelf Books

Corbello, Italy, 1947. A woman and a little boy stagger into the ruins of an old house deep in the forest, wild roses overwhelming the crumbling terracotta walls. Since the war, nowhere has been safe. But they both freeze in shock when a voice calls out from the shadows…

For young motherFosca Sentino, accepting refuge from ex-British soldierRichard– in Tuscany to escape his tragic past – is the only way to keep her little family safe. She once risked everything to spy on Nazi commanders and pass secret information to theresistenza. But after a heartbreaking betrayal, Fosca’s best friend Simonetta disappeared without trace. The whole community was torn apart, and now Fosca and her son are outcasts.

Wary of this handsome stranger at first, Fosca slowly starts to feel safe as she watches him play with her son in the overgrown orchard. But her fragile peace is…

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All the brave women…

I continue to read around my writing all the time. Research is never finished. In the town of Pieve Santo Stefano, also known as “the city of the diary” on its signpost, is a wonderful archive of ordinary people’s lives. And I’m often to be found in there. In their bookshop I picked up a wonderful account of women’s words about the war. Written by girls in their teens, who felt that the war had robbed them of their most beautiful years, to mothers who had been robbed of their children. All the descriptions move me very much in this compilation, but it is the stories of the women who helped with the resistance that astound me. They could have stayed at home and done nothing, but they volunteered to join in the fight for freedom. There were more women partisan in the Italian Resistance than in any similar movement in occupied Europe. One of them said, “We were conscious that for the first time we had been players in history.” At the end of the war, their role was spoken of with admiration and in fact of the first women elected to parliament, half had been partisans.

Of these female fighter, 4,633 Italian women were arrested, tortured and imprisoned, 2,750 were deported to the Nazi concentration camps. 620 died.

Our own country was not occupied. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have lived cheek by jowl with not only the occupiers but also with neighbours who were enemies in what was essentially a civil war in Italy. What would I have done? Would I have had the courage to resist? It is very humbling reading about the way so many Italian women felt bound to follow their instincts – their intuitive desire to pursue justice no matter what the cost.

My two heroines in The Tuscan House published today have such choices to make. They are fictitious, but very much based on the real women I have discovered through my research.  

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Desert Island Books with… Angela Petch

What fun I’ve had today on this blog – choosing five books to have with me on a desert island. Not an easy choice and I’d probably choose five different books tomorrow.

A Little Book Problem

desert-island-books

Welcome to another instalment of Desert Island Books, where I transport some poor soul to a remote atoll with nothing for company except one luxury item and five books of their choosing, so they had better choose wisely – who knows how long they will be marooned! Today’s strandee is author, Angela Petch.

What fun to choose the books I’d have on a desert island… but I’m not brilliant at being totally alone, so I need to inject fun on this island.

Book One – Just William by Richmal Crompton

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Meet everyone’s favourite troublemaker!

In Richmal Compton’s Just William, the Outlaws plan a day of non-stop adventure. The only problem is that William is meant to be babysitting. But William won’t let that stop him having fun with his gang – he’ll just bring the baby along!

There is only one William. This tousle-headed, snub-nosed, hearty, loveable imp of mischief…

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