Can you imagine being in a foreign country where few people speak your language, and then losing your husband and home? That’s what happens to Francesca Sittoni in Alethea Williams’ new novel, Willow Vale. Not long after she and her young daughter move from Italy to Wyoming, her husband dies in a mine accident, leaving Francesca alone and pregnant, with a small child and a home that the mining company wants her to vacate.
Francesca answers an ad for a housekeeper in Willow Vale, and meets Kent Reed, a World War I veteran with issues of his own. Francesca dares not tell Kent that prior to the war, her native land was part of Austria, who fought against the Allies, and not part of friendly Italy until after the war. Their relationship is complicated by both the language barrier and the hard times that each has faced.
I have visited South Tyrol in Italy, which is the area of Francesca’s birth. Alethea Williams brings across both the beauty of the land and the attitudes of its residents after the war. She ably describes the frustrations that Francesca faced dealing with a language barrier and uncertainty over American customs. This book is definitely worth reading.