A tale of sacrifice and reward, of beauty and horror … and of redemption.
When Rosa turns fifteen, she must leave the nuns who have raised her to become governess to the daughter of an aristocrat, the Marchese Scarfiotti, and his strange, frightening wife. Their house is elegant but cursed, and Rosa – blessed with gifts beyond her considerable musical talent – is torn between a desire to discover her past connections to the Scarfiotti family and her fear of their repercussions.
Meanwhile, the hand of Fascism curls around beautiful Italy, threatening her citizens. In the face of a brutal war and the Nazi occupation of her country, will Rosa’s intelligence, intuition and her extraordinary capacity for love be enough to ensure her survival?
‘A wonderful story that had me reading until the early hours of the morning’ Good Reading
‘Impeccable research into the terrible times of Mussolini’s Italy makes this story of sacrifice and salvation unforgettable’ Woman’s Day
I first travelled to Italy as a student and, after witnessing a wedding in a forest, promised myself two things: One day I would write a book set in Italy; and, if I ever got married, it would be in Italy. I’ve ended up doing both!
It seems that the very air in Italy sparkles with magic and romance. But there is a dark side too. I was enthralled by my husband’s Italian family’s history and their experiences in living through the Nazi occupation of their country. Some of the men joined Mussolini’s army while others became partisans. I wanted to write a story about a country and a family divided.
Reading Group Questions
1. Rosa forms several surrogate families in the absence of a biological one. Do these groups help her find peace with the mystery of her past?
2. Rosa is faced with many impossible choices under Mussolini and during the war. Would you have chosen as she does?
3. Would you be able to fight - and risk your life - for the greater good as Luciano does? Or would you focus on the survival of those closest to you?
4. Rosa’s musical talent takes a back seat to her struggle - and Italy’s struggle - over the years before and during the war. Can you see her finding a way back to performing?
5. How do you respond to Rosa’s ability to ‘read’ the past of objects? Do you think such an ability would be more blessing or burden?
6. Tuscan Rose is divided into parts that could be said to function in the same way as the movements of a piece of music. How else does music colour Belinda Alexandra’s writing?