Moving between the Second World War and the present, an exhilarating debut novel in the vein of Jennifer Robson, Kate Quinn, and Natasha Lester, about two women, decades apart, whose fates converge in Florence, Italy.
Only fourteen, Stella Infuriati is the youngest member of her town’s resistance network during World War II. Risking torture and death, she relays messages, supplies, and weapons to partisan groups in the Tuscan hills. Her parents have no idea, consumed instead by love and fear for their beloved son, Achille, a courier and unofficial mechanic for a communist partisan brigade.
Then, after 1945, Stella seemingly vanishes from the records. Her name and story are overshadowed by the tragic death of her brother—until a young writer arrives in Tuscany in the spring of 2019, uncovering long-buried secrets.
Fleeing an emotionally abusive marriage and a lonely life on an isolated estate, Tori MacNair has come to Florence, the beautiful city her grandmother taught her to love, to build a new life. As she digs into her family history with the help of Marco, a handsome lawyer, Tori starts to uncover secrets of the past—truths that stretch back decades, to a young woman who risked everything to save her world . . .
Escape to Florence is a promising debut from author Kat Devereaux. Set in the dual timeline of 1940's and 2019 Italy, it tells the stories of Tori MacNair, her late grandmother, and the surprising connection shared with Italian resistance fighters during WWII.
The stories that unfold during the book are both compelling in their own ways. I enjoyed watching Tori slowly reclaim herself after enduring years of an emotionally abusive marriage. Her evolution was presented in a realistic and relatable manner with steps forward - and backward - as would be expected in a real life similar situation. Marco was exactly the type of man she deserved in her life. In fact, Marco is the type of man we all deserve. Her sister and mother, on the other hand, deserved a long ride in a small boat with no oars. Endearing, they were not.
I love history and found the story of Stella, Achille, and Tori's grandmother to be fascinating. Devereaux included enough historical facts with the fiction to bring their journeys to life. Her descriptions of the events that unfolded, vivid depictions of the Italian countryside, and the development of Stella (primarily) and her brother, Achille brought it all to life, as a movie rolling across my mind.
The only quibble I had with this book was the abrupt manner in which it ended. I would have loved an epilogue or at least a bit of a look into Tori's future. I like things tied up with a pretty bow, I guess. In this case, as much as I enjoyed the book up to that point, I felt like I was left with too many questions at the end. Not everyone will feel the same, I'm sure.
If you enjoy dual-timeline stories, especially those set during WWII and present day, give Escape to Florence a try. I'm pleased to discover a new author writing in this era and will be looking forward to more books from Kat Devereaux.