Review of Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexandra
Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: FLORENCE, 1914. A mysterious stranger known as The Wolf leaves an infant with the sisters of Santo Spirito. A tiny silver key hidden in her wrappings is the one clue to the child’s identity. . . . FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, young Rosa must leave the nuns, her only family, and become governess to the daughter of an aristocrat and his strange, frightening wife. Their house is elegant but cursed, and Rosa—blessed with gifts beyond her considerable musical talents—is torn between her desire to know the truth and her fear of its repercussions. All the while, the hand of Fascism curls around beautiful Italy, and no citizen is safe. Rosa faces unimaginable hardship: her only weapons her intelligence, intuition, and determination . . . and her extraordinary capacity for love.
First off, I must apologize for not putting out a review last week. The book I am reviewing was long and it took me a while to finish it. Which by the way is no reflection on the book itself, although there were some points where I was tempted to stop (more on that later), as much as it was on my schedule for that week. I am currently registering for school as I am returning to university for some graduate work in Technical Writing. Applying to be considered a resident student was more difficult than a thought it would be.
But without any further ado, let’s get to this week’s story. As you can imagine, this week’s story takes place in Tuscany and our main character is a girl/woman named Rose. As an infant, a man appears at the convent of Spirito Santo to leave her to be raised by the nuns.
The story starts and the very beginning and goes at least half way through her life I think but all the elements of a good story are there. We have first the mystery of Rose’s origins. The man who has left her at the convent left his charge with only a key as a hint to her birthright.
She grows up there surprisingly happy until she is told by one of the nuns that she must leave. And that is when most of her troubles begin.
The Marchese of the Villa Scarfiotti has hired her as a governess for his daughter Clementina and from the get-go it is clear that his wife, the Marchesa, intensely dislikes her along with almost everyone else. And there seems to be a very evil force at work. A force that eventually gets her labeled as enemy of the new Fascists state and compels her to leave her beloved Clementina.
As World War II progresses things get gradually worse for both Rosa and the majority of the Italian population who live and sometimes die at the whim of Mussolini and his black shirts. It seems that she goes from one problem to the next but manages to keep her style and dignity while trying to discover the history of her past.
I liked most of the story as I said earlier because it was in Italy and I appreciated that it covered a part of Italy’s history that I previously knew little about. I did not realized exactly how much the citizens of Florence suffered under the Mussolini government as well as under German occupation.
I liked Rosa for the most part but there were times when the things that she did bothered me. I mean I know people aren’t perfect but sometimes it was hard to like her. It probably had a lot to do with the love triangle part of the story since I have never been a fan of love triangles.
The other characters had their intended feel I am guessing. The Marchesa and Osvaldo creeped me out while I couldn’t help but also like Clementina.
This story also relied on the supernatural quite a bit as we discover early on that Rosa has the ability to sense the origin of items, especially those that once were alive such as the fur coats. That was an interesting twist to the story as well and it fooled me a bit as to which direction the story was going.
There is some language in the story but most of the words are in Italian so I don’t know if that will offend anyone. There are also two sex scenes which account for the two times that I almost stopped reading. One in particular bothered me a bit but I kept reading in an effort to find out the end of both the story of Rosa and the city of Florence.
So in the end, I am recommending it but with the above caveats. It is a unique and interesting story. Give it a try.