It Happened in Tuscany

It Happened in Tuscany

by Gail Mencini


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From the multiple-award-winning 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 one, a beautiful girl, tended his injuries until he had the strength to rejoin the U.S. 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 thirty-two-year-old neighbor, Sophie Sparke, faces disaster in her life. Everything is going wrong—her job, her love life, 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. Will also secretly hopes to confront the demons his wartime actions created. 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.

Accolades for To Tuscany with Love by Gail Mencini:

“A powerful debut novel that transports readers to the lush Italian countryside …” — Mandy Brooks - Book People Austin, TX and Erica Bates - Tattered Cover Denver, CO

"Best character driven novel I've read!” — Jenny Simonson, Black Hills Book Club

Honored as #1 Local Best Seller — Denver Post

Recommended as "Inspirational Women’s Fiction" — USA TODAY

2014 Fiction Winner — Beverly Hills International Book Awards

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938592157
Publisher: Capriole Group LLC
Publication date: 02/18/2020
Pages: 410
Sales rank: 140,505
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)

About the Author

Gail Mencini makes her literary debut with To Tuscany with Love, an adult coming-of-age novel. She was born and raised in rural Nebraska, where everyone knew their neighbors and summers were spent outdoors¿working, playing, or watching fireflies. Her love for reading books and imagining characters and their stories germinated during those days of creating her own world. Gail¿s parents, who visited every continent except Antarctica, sparked her love of travel and adventure, which burns brighter than ever.

Gail was raised to be independent.

Customer Reviews

It Happened in Tuscany 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Shirleymca 5 days ago
Finding Francesca This story was one of the most heartwarming stories I have ever read. The character of Will and his determination to find Francesca, the girl he left behind in Italy, on his last legs of strength at 91 years old tugged at my heart. I sit here now, writing this review with tears in my eyes. The story of Sophie and her dog Bangor was pretty special as well. She grew to care about life again while helping Will to go to Italy and look for Francesca. She even found love again with a handsome Italian because of Wills search for his lost love. Bridging the gap between old and young this story does that and more. It is the story of an old man, a young lady and a quest shared. Both are mending broken hearts and they do it together in their own way. How they grow to respect each other and their uniqueness and how they conquer the age difference to complete the quest is a wonderful story. It was a delightful read, I think anyone would be inspired by this story. A great piece of work and very well written. I would definitely recommend it. Thanks to Gail Mencini, Caprioli Group, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review an advance copy of the book.
Cindy Wyman 9 days ago
It Happened in Tuscany is a wonderful story that drew me into the lives and minds of Sophie and Will. It was a beautiful trip through the Tuscan region of Italy with warm and loving characters along the way. I think I could live in Marguerita's kitchen. I imagined it smelled as wonderful as my mother's and grandmother's kitchens!
E-Becker 3 months ago
It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Menchini offers a magnificent and enjoyable story to any reader. The author's ability to explain the characters and their roles in this interesting life publication makes it worth a read. The essence of two characters named Will Mills who fought in the war during 1945 and his young neighbour Sophie Sparke offers an insight into two people from different worlds who support each other. They support each other in a unique and meaningful way. Will aims to return to Italy after many years and emotionally recover from the most drastic experiences he had during World War II. His time in Italy not only remembered him of the war times but also a girl he ones knew. Will and Sophie return to Italy. While Will is looking forward to searching and possibly find the love of his love, Sophie needs to recover her emotional status as well. After she experienced a range of her own dramatic personal events, this journey may assist her to reclaim the balance in her life again. I recommend this book to any person who enjoys history but with added humanlike experiences and struggles people live with daily.
ReadersFavorite2 3 months ago
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite 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.
ReadersFavorite1 3 months ago
Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite 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.
ReadersFavorite 3 months ago
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.
Texas109 3 months ago
***It Happened In Tuscany takes readers on a trip to Italy as Will, a WWII vet and his neighbor Sophie search for the girl who had saved Will’s life some seventy-five years ago. The one letter he’d received from Francesco after the war showed her holding a baby she’d said was his. The search introduces readers to the history, the smells, the food, the wine, and the sights of Italy as the American pair encounter one dead end after another. There are surprises along the way, however, that might bring changes to more than one character. Overall this was a nice story, but this reader often felt bogged down by all the details that had little to do with Will’s search. Readers who enjoy travelogues should relish the book, however, it wasn’t the WWII story I hoped it would be. I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
JerseyGirlBookReviews 3 months ago
In It Happened In Tuscany, author Gail Mencini weaves an intriguing historical fiction tale that follows the emotional journey of an unlikely pair in the scenic hill towns of Tuscany. On February 18, 1945, seventeen year old Army Specialist Will Mills is part of the elite 86th Regiment - 10th Mountain Division from Colorado, who are faced with the challenge of attacking the Germans on Riva Ridge, on Italy's Apennine Mountains. Will is injured from sniper fire during the attack, and a group of Italian partisans (resistance fighters) rescued him. Will falls in love with Francesca Polvani, the young Italian girl who tended to his injuries. At the end of the war, Will ships home to Denver, where he meets and marries his wife Marie, but a letter and photo from Francesca arrives a year later, leaving Will with unfinished business. Seventy-five years later, Will's wife Marie passes away from Alzheimer's disease, and at the age of ninety-one, Will is determined to return to Italy in search of Francesca. Thirty-two year old Sophie Sparke's ex-boyfriend Russ Grant has dumped her for another woman, and to make matters worse, his father who is also Sophie's boss, wants her to make travel arrangements for Russ' honeymoon. Sophie refuses to make the travel arrangements and quits her job. Left with no job and no future plans, Sophie's elderly neighbor, crotchety Will Mills, gets her to agree to accompany him on his journey to Italy. Written in the third person narrative, this is a wonderful story that transports the reader to the panoramic beauty of the Italian countryside of Tuscany, where Will and Sophie embark on an impossible journey to find Francesca. The reader is easily drawn into this captivating story of love, family, friendship, secrets, fears, and determination. The author masterfully interweaves Will's life story that alternates between the past and the present, providing the reader with snapshots from his time in Italy during World War II, while also giving the reader a glimpse into Sophie's story as well. This is a compelling and realistic story that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and provides much food for thought. The story ultimately shows the power and bond of love, family, and friendship comes full circle when Will and Sophie embark on an emotional journey through Tuscany in search of Will's past love seventy-five years later. You can't help but root for this unlikely pair as they search through Tuscany's countryside for Francesca, it is not an easy journey, but it is a story that will have the reader feeling the gamut of emotions. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the stunning description of the Italian setting of Tuscany. The author provides the reader with a richly vivid setting that reads like a tourist guide. From large cities to panoramic countrysides to old world hill towns; to guided tours of cultural historical sites and quaint shops; the author does a phenomenal job of describing the sights, sounds and smells of Italy. You can't help but feel like you are with Will and Sophie as their journey provides them a chance to rediscover themselves and heal from the traumas of their pasts. At the end of the book, the author has provided the reader with a collection of simple Italian (Tuscany) recipes that are absolutely mouthwatering! It Happened In Tuscany is a touching story that captures the power of love, the bond of family, the essence of friendship, and the ability to heal from life's experiences.