The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

What is Gracie Burton’s Tuscan Secret?

The Temptation of Gracie is a 400 page romantic novel set in Tuscany, Italy about the secrets we keep and the hopes we hold onto.

The lead character, Gracie Burton, lives a simple, uncomplicated, some might say monotonous existence with her dogs in her cottage in Badley Compton in Devon, England. She is unflatteringly described by the author as “a bud of winter passed.” and “a dry flower crying out for water.”

Gracie, who never leaves the town, shocks her family and the towns’ folk when she announces that she had booked a class at Mamma Bernadetta’s Cookery School in Tuscany and will be taking a holiday to Italy. The small and curious community of Badley Compton is baffled and left wondering, How can she afford it? Can she look after herself in a strange country? Has she lost her mind?

Photo courtesy Discovery Bicycle Tours

Also perplexed is her busy, executive daughter, Carina, who lives in London and is so frantically consumed with running from one meeting to the next that she barely has time for her husband Rufus and 17-year-old daughter Anastacia, let alone time to check on or spend time with Gracie.

So, Gracie is just as baffled and surprised when Carina announces that she and Anastacia have decided to join Gracie on her culinary adventure. When they arrive in Italy, Gracie slowly reveals to her granddaughter the secret she has harboured for 44 years.

No-one is aware of Gracie’s secret of a hidden past and a life where she left her family in England as a teenager and fall in love with the dashingly handsome Count Tancredi Bassanelli, in the castle which is also the venue for the cooking class. Coincidence? I think not.

As it turns out, the now aged and reclusive Count is still living at the castle. Why did they part? What will happen if he and Gracie meet again?

The Temptation of Gracie definitely has a sense of the pining and nostalgia for a romantic love lost. This pining is also for the love lost between the generation of women in a family. Gracie is emotionally disconnected from her daughter as is her daughter Carina from her own child. The book reminds the importance of investing in our relationships and sharing experiences.

Other themes include the sometimes inevitable trap of forming misguided and unchecked perceptions and judgements of others. As her townfolk come to realise, Gracie is not quite as “ordinary” as they first thought. Healing the past is also a powerful message.

I enjoyed this book and found it a comfortable read. Being set in the beautiful, hillside of Tuscany amidst the breathtaking Italian countryside is simply an added bonus.

My only wish is that the author would have included some of the recipes of the delicious Italians dishes that were being taught at the cookery school. Maybe that’s my signal to find my own cookery school and take an Italian culinary adventure. The Temptation of Gracie is published by Simon and Schuster.

Author Santa Montefiore Photo courtesy Faceboook

About the Author

Since I was a child I always wanted to be a writer.

I dabbled in books throughout my youth, from children’s stories to rather naïve love stories as I got older.

From the age of 12 I went to Sherborne School for Girls, which was a boarding school. There I excelled in English, which was lucky because I certainly didn’t excel at much else except for sport and music!

I wrote stories for my friends, imagining romances between them and the spotty youths they fancied at Sherborne Boys’ School. I transformed them into Rhett Butlers and set them in humid, mosquito-infested jungles, which I considered extremely romantic, having never been in one.

This seemed to satisfy them and I was in great demand to write more.


Book review by Gillian Ching

Gillian is a Brisbane based writer whose idea of bliss is sitting on a sandy Sunshine Coast beach with a bearded dog on her lap and a novel in her hand.

With a life long love of books and reading, Gillian is a former Secretary of the Brisbane Writers Festival and Policy Adviser in the creation of the Queensland Premiers Literary Awards. She holds a Master of Arts from QUT and a Graduate Diploma in Communication (Journalism) 


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