It Happened in Tuscany


Fiction - Womens
410 Pages
Reviewed on 02/19/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Gail Mencini is the acclaimed author of It Happened in Tuscany and To Tuscany with Love, a Denver Post #1 bestseller and winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills International Book Award in the Chick-Lit Fiction category. Gail grew up in DeWitt, Nebraska, graduated from Wartburg College with a BA in Accounting and Economics, and earned a master of taxation degree from the University of Denver. A frequent visitor to Tuscany and a homegrown gourmet cook, Gail has toured Italy by car, train, bus, Vespa, and foot. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

It Happened In Tuscany is a dramatic work of women’s fiction penned by author Gail Mencini. Accessible to all readers due to its clever and delicate approach to adult themes, this charming and intriguing story focuses on interpersonal drama, the after-effects of war and the theme of self-discovery, no matter where you are on life’s pathways. Will Mills is a veteran soldier from the Second World War who was rescued by Italian partisans after one dangerous night in 1945. In the modern day, Will persuades his impetuous neighbor Sophie Sparke to accompany him on a journey to the hills of Tuscany to find the people who once saved his life. So begins an incredible journey through the demons and secrets of the past.

Author Gail Mencini has created a literary masterpiece in It Happened In Tuscany, which combines all the best elements of women’s fiction, contemporary drama, and historical fiction into one. The characters are by far the strongest elements of this already-strong novel, and in both Will and Sophie readers are sure to find much that they can embrace and see reflected in themselves. Will’s past haunts him terribly, and Mencini’s emotive prose allows us access to his mind with beautifully painted word-portraits of his bitterness and pain. Sophie is an independent soul that readers can relate to, learning more about the world and herself as the plot goes on. What results is an emotionally full tale with a powerful story arc and some excellent reflective moments that will stay with you long after reading.

Christian Sia

It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini is dramatic fiction with strong themes and exceptional characters. The story starts in the midst of the action, featuring an intense battle on February 18, 1945. Army Specialist Will Mills is just seventeen years old and the events of the war not only try his will and courage but leave him psychologically disturbed and thrust him on the path of guilt. On that night, they scaled the Riva Ridge to break the defenses of the Germans but Will was injured and found himself being nursed by a beautiful Italian girl until he was strong enough to rejoin the army. The story moves on many years after that. Will is an eccentric old man haunted by his past, and he happens to be neighbors with Sophie Sparke, a woman who seems to have no social engagement except for her dog, Bangor.

It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini is about how this bitter and angry man sets out on a journey to Tuscany with Sophie Sparke. The journey turns out to be a spiritual odyssey that unveils hidden gems in their histories, a strong connection, and a fresh perspective of life. The novel is beautifully developed and readers are able to understand why Will is a bitter person. He has never completely reconciled with the decisions he made during the war. I loved the way the author describes the scenes of war. The prose is beautiful, the writing focused, and the characters fleshed-out. It Happened in Tuscany is a journey that explores an old man’s quest for redemption and inner freedom and a young woman’s quest for meaning. Friendship and adventure are among the themes that are beautifully developed in this novel. It is cinematic and gripping.

Rabia Tanveer

It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini is a unique look at how we find love and how it finds us even in the most inconvenient way possible. Will knew the only way to live was to fight every second. He fought his way in the war, he fought to stay alive and when his wife died, he knew that he would have to fight some more. However, when he was feeling at his lowest, he remembered Francesca, the beautiful young girl who saved him when he was injured in the war. So he accepts the help of his troubled neighbor Sophie and together they travel to Italy in hopes of finding Francesca. Sophie is running away from the world just a little bit. Both of them didn’t realize that this trip to Italy would be what they needed to live again.

It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini is an emotional coming of age story of a man and a woman as they figure their lives out. Their individual stories made me laugh, cry and feel all kinds of emotional highs along with them. Will is such a strong character; he is a man of his word and once he makes up his mind, he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. I resonated with Sophie; she is a hard woman who is trying to cope with what is happening in her life. Together, they have a rhythm and a connection that make you feel all warm inside. Gail Mencini ensured that the reader would be invested in the story from the start. The pace starts a little slow in the beginning, but it picks up as the story progresses. The complex characters are complemented by smoothly developed characters and these two elements work beautifully together. The descriptions are compelling, the images are vivid and the characters are believable. This is an incredibly rich story that took me on an emotional yet beautiful journey and it deserves this 5-star rating.