Come to the festival!


Love reading? Love writing? Love Italy?

Then you’re invited!

The book festival takes place right here on this blog, Facebook and Twitter from 1st to 8th May

So you can take a virtual road trip around the Bel Paese


Be transported to Venice, Verona, Tuscany, Rome, the Lakes, Liguria, Umbria, Le Marche, Amalfi, Sicily and more! And discover some fabulous reads along the way. All from the comfort of your sofa


There are lots of amazing authors taking part


Share your travel tips * anecdotes * book recommendations * foodie favourites * places to stay * writing retreats – and win prizes!


More details coming soon.

But for now please note the date in your diary. Drop in any time during the first week of May to catch up on posts and be in with a chance of a prize

Look forward to seeing you!


If you’re an author with a book set in Italy and would like to take part, please get in touch


Book review – Sophia by Anita Anand


Sophia – Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: non fiction, history

A shocking story of disposession and discovery. Sophia Duleep Singh was born in 1876 after her father the Maharaja Duleep Singh’s Sikh kingdom (as well as the Koh-i-nor diamond) was taken by the British and he was exiled to England. Queen Victoria was godmother to Sophia who as a child was quiet and genteel – so what changed the princess into a militant suffragette?

This is an amazing story. If it was a novel it might seem a little far-fetched but it’s true, and an absolutely compelling book. It’s meticulously researched but told in a novelesque way which makes it a joy to read.

We follow Sophia from her aristocratic, socialite lifestyle at Hampton Court Palace to her travels in India where she learns about her roots and the injustices facing her people, to her fight for female justice, leading marches and getting arrested. I’d recommend this untold story to anyone with an interest in British history and especially the suffragette movement.

my rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Love Affair with an Ape

This has been such an exciting week. For one thing, my edits have just come back so I’ll be going into hiding for a day or two while I go through these. A top notch editor makes such a difference to a book and I’m so pleased to be working with Christine McPherson again who edited The Silence.

Secondly, the artwork for the cover of The Secret has just come in. I hope you like it.


I love the ancient Tuscan street with the shutters, the iron balconies, stone arches and most of all the cute little Ape.

Just to avoid any misunderstanding among people not familiar with Tuscany, I’m not talking about a monkey here but a bee. Not a real bee either but that’s the name given to the tiny three-wheel pickup truck made by Piaggio that’s become synonymous with Italy and was born in Tuscany.

Just as Vespa means wasp and is the name of Piaggio’s iconic motor scooter, the Ape or bee, by the same designer, d’Asciano, is aptly named because it buzzes about doing essential work.

The word Ape (pronounced AHpay) is one of the many “false friends” English-speaking people encounter when learning Italian. But if you think of apiary it’s not actually so strange.

First made in 1948 in Pontedera, the motorcycle van was the perfect solution for cash-strapped post-war Italy, giving thousands the freedom to create their own business with a low cost, low fuel consumption, compact vehicle that was easy to manoeuvre in narrow city streets and steep winding mountain lanes.

Although the design has been modified a few times over the years, incorporating a steering wheel instead of the old motorcycle handlebars, the heroic little van is still seen in rural villages all over Italy. As well as providing transport, it’s also used for promotion with an advertising hoarding in the back, and versions have been used as mini ice cream or coffee vans and even taxis.

It’s just the sort of van that Flávio d’Olivo, the woodcutter who first appeared in The Silence published last year but who also features in The Secret, would drive.

There’s a Piaggio museum at Pontedera (between Pisa and San Miniato) showing the history of the Vespa and Ape with some super-stylish and gorgeously nostalgic designs

The lane that borders our garden in Tuscany is only fractionally wider than a family car, extremely steep, heavily potholed and with no safety barrier to protect you from the vertiginous drop if you misjudge the “gomito” or “elbow” bend halfway up. Most locals know better than to use it and visitors who do so have been known to emerge white-faced and shaking.

But Ape vans trundle up and down with ease.

So if it sounds as though I’m a bit in love with the Ape, it’s true. I want one. But for now, just looking at the one on my cover brings a smile to my face.

I think it’s the bee’s knees!

The Secret will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 1st June.





Book review – Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny

Hunters Chase, Val Penny, Crooked Cat Books

IMG_6540The story: When a burglary turns into a murder enquiry, DI Hunter Wilson is called to investigate. Shortly after the grisly post mortem, he witnesses a second murder. A young woman’s life hangs in the balance and her physical similarity to the first victim raises questions. To add to Hunter’s difficulties the new man on his team Tim Myerscough happens to be the son of Hunter’s nemesis, Sir Peter Myerscough, the former chief constable and also the victim of the attempted burglary. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test many times in this first adventure in the Edinburgh crime series.

This book has been getting some brilliant reviews so I had to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did – it’s a fantastic debut novel – cleverly constructed with plausible characters and brilliant twists and turns. There are one or two grisly scenes and some heartbreaking moments but plenty of warmth and humour too. I really got a feel for the characters and the book didn’t fall into trap that some procedural crime stories do of getting bogged down in day-to-day detail at the expense of the drama. I’ll be looking out for the next book in this series and would recommend the book to anyone who loves crime fiction.
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



Letters from Elsewhere: Irena

Meet one of the characters from The Secret – Carlo’s mother Irena has always been reluctant to talk about her past but a photograph has sparked some memories she can’t get out of her head. Today she’s the guest of Miriam Drori, whose blog features letters from book characters – such a brilliant idea!

An' de walls came tumblin' down

Letters from Elsewhere

What an honour! I’ve been joined today by an venerable old woman. I’m not sure how old Irena is, but I’m told she’s the oldest resident in the Tuscan mountain village of Santa Zita. She’s brought a letter to her son, Carlo, who’s been pressing her to help him piece together a mystery that’s puzzled him all his life and which he’s come back to the village to solve after living abroad for many years.

Irena’s chaperone is Katharine Johnson, whose first two novels, Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings and The Silence were very much enjoyed by yours truly. Here’s the letter:

Dear Carlo,

That wedding photograph I said I didn’t remember – I may as well tell you the truth, I suppose. The bride was Martina. And yes, I was the bridesmaid. And the one of the two girls sitting on the wall of the fountain eating ice cream? Martina…

View original post 693 more words


Free book – The Moonchild by Heidi Catherine


As a bookworm I’m always tempted by book bargains but when I saw this story by Heidi Catherine was available for free I was really excited as it’s the prequel to her award-winning novel The Soulweaver, and the Truth Seeker which has just been released in paperback,

The Story: It’s a story of an unlikely friendship that lasts a lifetime and beyond. When two children, Charlie and Essie, meet in outback Australia, they feel an instant connection despite their differences. As they kick up the red sand of the desert by day and sit stargazing on the porch at night, they learn they’re capable of so much more than they’d imagined. Never forgetting the time they spent together, they meet again as adults and realise the impact they’ve had on each other’s lives.

But when Essie’s star threatens to fall, Charlie refuses to believe he won’t be able to catch her this time.

My review: Described as a novelette, this is a quick read but a powerful story that I know will linger with me – a charming, mystical, uplifting tale that’s beautifully told.

To get this ebook for free go to 


Book review: Chosen Child by Linda Huber


Chosen Child, Linda Huber

The story: Ella longs for a child and thinks she’s found the answers to her prayers when at an adoption party she and husband Rick are introduced to Soraya. Amanda discovers she’s pregnant but doesn’t know if the baby’s her husband Gareth’s or her lover James’s. These two seemingly unconnected situations become intertwined when a disappearance leads to a gruesome find.

My review: I was gripped from the start, wondering at what point these two stories would come together. I didn’t have long to wait and it wasn’t in the way I expected. What starts as a tragedy turns into a crime. This is a deliciously suspenseful story where one awful secret leads to another and the characters start to wonder how well they know each other and should trust each other. There are lots of near-miss moments and I was kept guessing about how it would end. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and domestic noir, you should definitely read this book!

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️