ABOUT THE BOOK
Fiction. Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.
“Very beautiful, surprising and evocative.”–Simonetta Agnello Hornby
“This is an enchanting slow burn of a novel; a notable debut. Vescina’s voice is admirably clear, her descriptions lucid, and her characters are human to the core.”–Rachel Seiffert
“THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is rich in insights into human emotions. It’s the tale of the disastrous course even a great love can take if bitterness is allowed to prevail and chances of forgiveness are rejected, but also of the miracles it can work if profoundly experienced and expressed. Valeria Vescina’s style has the fluidity of the great European novelists. Her characterisations are at once vivid and poetic, and the plot ever-surprising. Finally, here is the discovery through literature of Puglia, with its remarkable synthesis of Mediterranean history and cultures–and how appropriate, as this is, deep down, Greek tragedy.”–Edoardo Winspeare
I found this to be a totally absorbing debut and loved spending time with the character Tommaso as he recounted the story of his life and loves to a PI who has tracked him down 30 years later. Tommaso has done all he can to distance himself from his past and as he explains the reasons why throughout this intriguing story.
It is a story full of great character studies – we learn of young love, family jealousies and secrets and the way it’s told was also fascinating as it feels like Tommaso is having the conversation with you the reader as he looks back. It isn’t difficult to feel yourself back in Puglia during his youth, growing up idolising his father and the impact that losing him had on him as a young man. And how the death affected his mother who became a different person to him and he always resented the way she treated him from that point. There’s plenty of heartbreak but also determination from Tommaso to move on with his life and explains how he ended up in London and how his life had changed so much.
The bright light in his life was Anna and their story is a beautiful one despite their differences in lifestyles and religion.
The attention to detail was exquisite and the sights and sounds are brought vividly to life through the pages. It had a lovely gentle feel to it throughout and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.
My thanks to the author, publisher and the team at Bookollective for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for the copy of the book.