That Summer In Puglia

By Valeria Vescina

Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years – but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love Anna. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts?

That Summer In Puglia is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will – and painful truths – at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism. 

 ‘Yes, I can appreciate that as a P.I. you don’t often get the chance to give your clients good news – but I didn’t hire you. I don’t want people back home to know I’m alive. A valid reason? Simple: she was a murderer. My mother killed my love.’

Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, Italy. She was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). That Summer In Puglia is her debut novel.

Launched at the FT Weekend's Oxford Literary Festival.

Very beautiful, surprising and evocative. Simonetta Agnello Hornby

This is an enchanting slow burn of a novel; a notable debut. Vescina’s voice is admirably clear, her descriptions lucid, and her characters are human to the core. – Rachel Seiffert

That Summer In Puglia is rich in insights into human emotions. It’s the tale of the disastrous course even a great love can take if bitterness is allowed to prevail and chances of forgiveness are rejected, but also of the miracles it can work if profoundly experienced and expressed. Valeria Vescina’s style has the fluidity of the great European novelists. Her characterisations are at once vivid and poetic, and the plot ever-surprising. Finally, here is the discovery through literature of Puglia, with its remarkable synthesis of Mediterranean history and cultures – and how appropriate, as this is, deep down, Greek tragedy. – Edoardo Winspeare


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That Summer In Puglia by Valeria Vescina