I’m so excited that author Belinda Alexandra has stopped by to chat about her love affair with Italy and her beautiful new novel, Tuscan Rose. And, she’s also introducing an awesome new contest, with details at the bottom of the post!

Who can travel to Italy and not fall in love? The art, the food, the beauty, the lifestyle, the people, the cities, the countryside … all of it is intoxicating! When I travelled there for the first time as a student I made two promises to myself: One day I would write a book set in Italy: and if I ever got married, it would be there.

Many years later I did marry my Italian husband in a castle on the shores of Lago di Garda. It was a beautiful, romantic wedding and afterwards as Mauro and I walked through the town, the shopkeepers came out of their stores to applaud us and shout:  ‘Viva gli sposi!’. To the bride and groom!

I didn’t know then that breathtaking Lago di Garda was where Mussolini had spent his last days. It was this dictator who dragged Italy into the Second World War on the side of Hitler. You see, Italy has a dark side too.

If there is one thing I know about Italians, it’s that they are not famous for their obedience. If they want to stand up at a wedding when they’ve been told to sit down, they will. If they want to answer their cell phone in the middle of a film screening in a cinema, they will (and speak loudly too!). I wondered how they ever lived under a dictator.

In my husband’s family, some of his uncles fought with Mussolini’s Italian army during the Second World War while others joined the partisans. It was this idea of a family divided – in a country where family is everything – that became the spark of the idea for Tuscan Rose.

The novel is a mystery and a love story set against that turbulent time in Italy’s history. The heroine, Rosa Bellocchi, was inspired by a picture I saw in a history text book when I was at school. It was a photograph of three beautiful young Italian women walking through a street and holding machine guns. The caption read: ‘Italian women partisans’.  The image stayed with me all these years.  Politics and culture during the Mussolini years put women’s place firmly in the home. I wondered what had made these young mothers leave their hearths and families to bear arms.

Because Italy embodies magic in its culture and art, I wanted Tuscan Rose to be more than straight historical fiction. I’ve imbued it with the qualities of an epic fairytale with good and bad witches, sorcerers and clashes between light and dark beings. I hope you enjoy it!

 

So… who wants to win a copy of this sweeping historical fiction novel? All you have to do is answer the below question in a comment by 9 a.m., November 28th for your chance to win a copy of Tuscan Rose. Three winners will be chosen. *Click here for complete contest rules.

What is the one dish that completely defines Thanksgiving in your family that you absolutely have to have at your Thanksgiving meal? (Recipes are always welcome, so feel free to share those too!)

I’ll get things started, even though I don’t think I’m technically allowed to win a copy: Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup! Mmmm… Okay, your turn!