Hannibal Free Public Library

The Tuscan Child


Rhys Bowen

July 19, 2021

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.



In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…


Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, including The Victory GardenThe Tuscan Child, and the World War II-based In Farleigh Field. Bowen’s work has won twenty honors to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. A transplanted Brit, Bowen divides her time between California and Arizona.




  1. The Tuscan Child is told in two timelines.  What techniques did the author use to create a smooth sync between the time periods?  Did the stories seem historically authentic? 


  1. Two different characters narrate The Tuscan Child.  Did you enjoy one of the stories more than the other?  Did you relate to any of the characters?  Why or why not?


  1. Did your opinion of Sofia change as your reading of the book progressed?  What about the other characters?


  1. Compare and contrast Joanna’s relationship with her father and Renzo’s with his.


  1. Are there other comparisons or contrasts among the characters and the two stories?


  1. Rhys Bowen is a mystery writer.  How far into the story did you need to read before you recognized The Tuscan Child as a mystery?  Why do you think the author paced the storylines without any sense of urgency?


  1. The plot moved along after the murder of Gianni Martinelli.  Were the local police right to suspect Joanna of his murder?  Did Cosimo’s arrangements for her to leave the country seem realistic?


  1. How long did it take you to realize what "the beautiful boy” was? Were you disappointed?
  2. Consider one of the final plot twists.  Was the earthquake realistic?
  3. When the seal of confession was broken, was it due to a priestly judgment (or misjudgment) on saving the village from the Nazis, or just a writer’s technique used to solve the mystery?  Why do you think the priest broke the seal of confession again on his deathbed?


  1. Joanna's quick but authentic embrace of her Italian community means she could stay, or she could go, and either way, she might continue solving mysteries. Why do you think the author left the book so open-ended?  Do you think it might be the first book in a series?




Adapted from: https://www.bookmovement.com/bookDetailView/56061/The-Tuscan-Child-By-Rhys-Bowen and https://rhysbowen.com and https://www.readingroom-readmore.com/2018/03/the-tuscan-child-by-rhys-bowen-reading.html and https://www.npr.org/2018/02/24/586440609/curl-up-with-the-tuscan-child-a-truly-cozy-mystery and https://luvtoread.com/2018/02/22/the-tuscan-child/ and http://www.kittykelleywriter.com/2018/11/20/the-tuscan-child/ and http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-tuscan-child/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIp8jUptjb7wIVU_vjBx1DJQgEEAMYAiAAEgJIFfD_BwE#gsc.tab=0