TO TUSCANY WITH LOVE

Gail Mencini

Can one college semester abroad change the course of your life? For Bella Rossini it did.

Bella Rossini, a vivacious college junior, lands in jail overnight with acquaintances whom she mistakes for friends. Shipped off to Tuscany by her mother, Bella is suddenly thrust into living with seven strangers during one life-altering summer.

Meet Hope, the sturdy and practical girl, steadfast in her loyalty to her boyfriend; Meghan and Karen, identical twins with an eye for fashion and beauty to match; Stillman, haunted by his hard past, and Phillip, an athlete, both fueled by competition; Lee,

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Can one college semester abroad change the course of your life? For Bella Rossini it did.

Bella Rossini, a vivacious college junior, lands in jail overnight with acquaintances whom she mistakes for friends. Shipped off to Tuscany by her mother, Bella is suddenly thrust into living with seven strangers during one life-altering summer.

Meet Hope, the sturdy and practical girl, steadfast in her loyalty to her boyfriend; Meghan and Karen, identical twins with an eye for fashion and beauty to match; Stillman, haunted by his hard past, and Phillip, an athlete, both fueled by competition; Lee, by family mandate in pre-med; and Rune, the Hollywood-bound wild child. All add sizzling chemistry and rebellious humor to the mix.

In one whirlwind summer, while uncovering the charms of Italy, they discover both friendship and love.

After their summer together, life—and loss—happens.

Returning to Tuscany thirty years later, their dreams, anger, secrets, and disappointments create an emotional kaleidoscope. Their reunion sends them on a startling collision course that none of them could have predicted.

Set against the allure of Tuscany, with an irresistible fusion of heartbreak and humor, this debut novel, To Tuscany with Love, explores the fear of letting the past determine the future and the power of friendship.

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  • Capriole Group
  • Paperback
  • January 2014
  • 398 Pages
  • 9781938592003

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$16.95

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About Gail Mencini

Award-winning author Gail Mencini makes her literary debut with To Tuscany with Love, an adult coming-of-age novel. She lives in Denver with her husband and family.

Praise

“A fun, poignant story … Mencini's debut novel starts in the present day with the middle-aged Bella Rossini receiving an invitation to reunite with people from her past … Mencini also provides beautiful prose that brings settings to life: “[T]he morning sun yielded to a landscape vista dotted with hilltop villas, vineyards, and olive groves. Gold, orange, pink, and dusty greens unfolded in a rolling patchwork.” An intriguing tale about how people can affect one another long after they part ways.”Kirkus Reviews

“5 out of 5 stars. What a joy this book is to read! Gail Mencini captured the essence of a visitors' perspective of Florence beautifully. The book could almost double as a tour guide, however the story of the friendships formed by the eight young people will capture your heart. … A light read, a beautiful story, and a stunning backdrop that is Tuscany. Loved it. Hope there is a sequel.”Kerry Walsh posted on Netgalley

“Gail Mencini's debut novel adds the volatility of young love to an enchanting landscape. Bella Rossini's love triangle, supplemented by the stories of her friends, is a passionate entanglement that complicates the course of her life…Rewarding elements include the theme of travel as a restorative force; Italy emerges not as a touristic, escapist destination, but as a place with deep significance in the characters' search for forgiveness and a new sense of direction…A clear-eyed look at the many ways plans can derail, and at the resilience of those who get back on track.”ForeWord Reviews

“Best character driven novel I've read! … To Tuscany With Love will be an excellent book for book club discussion!”Jenny Simonson, Black Hills Book Club on Goodreads

Discussion Questions

Discuss the goals of each of the characters as they return for their reunion: redemption, forgiveness, retribution, escape, inspiration, opportunity for a new direction, and reuniting with a lost love are all possibilities to contemplate.

How do the events during and immediately following their college semester abroad shape Bella’s future?

Discuss the reasons why people might stay in relationships that are destructive or unfulfilling.

Consider the good and bad life choices the characters make and how that impacts not only them, but also others.

Karen and Lee each acted in an inappropriate or “wrong” manner. Discuss how their actions might have helped one or more of their friends in the long run.

How do the characters each grow as a person during the course of the novel?

For each character, discuss whether the group’s friendship impacted the characters’ individual growth during their semester abroad, later during their reunion, or during both periods of time.

Stillman’s childhood molded his future in more than one way. Discuss how his future was shaped by his past, whether you would have made similar choices or not, and why.

Consider the varying reactions of the characters to stresses and disappointments in their lives.

What specific event or element of each character’s past do they fear will guide their future? (This could be an event, the continued search for an unfulfilled goal, or their previous mistakes.)

Consider how the individual characters were positively and negatively impacted by the existence of, or their need for, a family.

Compare how the characters’ different backgrounds impacted their lives, goals, and personalities.

Consider the importance of friends in your life and how they impact you during different ages.

Discuss reunions and your own fears and hopes when attending one.

Share your favorite or least favorite reunion story with your group.