Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Echoes of Love - Hannah Fielding - Blog Tour Guest post and giveaway!

Today I am pleased to welcome author Hannah Fielding to the blog as part of her blog tour for The Echoes of Love. As well as her guest post below, there is a great giveaway too!

The Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour: The true sword in the stone

For the love of legends by Hannah Fielding

For me, researching a book is just as enjoyable as writing it. I set each of my novels in a passionate, romantic country, and so that I can really transport my readers there, I immerse myself in the setting: its history, its scenery, its cuisine, its culture. Top of my research list are local legends – I love colourful, age-old stories; the more fantastical, the better!

Since I was a young girl, tucked up in bed and listening avidly to my governess weaving bedtime tales, I have loved legends. Fairytales too, of course – they sowed the seeds for my romantic nature – but legends fascinated me most: those that have stood the test of time, that offer intriguing explanations for the modern world, that are at once fantastical and yet, somehow, believable.

My novel The Echoes of Love, set in Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia, incorporates various Italian legends – told by the hero, Paolo, who is a raconteur extraordinaire, to my heroine, Venetia – and in my research files I collected many more. What better way to share some of these most romantic, magical and atmospheric tales but in this Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour!

Today, I’m taking you to Tuscany, home to Paolo in The Echoes of Love, and a place I very much enjoyed describing in the novel, so beautiful is the scenery:

The shimmering hillside, planted with olives and vines, sloped steeply down; beyond the motionless spires of cypresses stretched the blue and green hills of Tuscany. The hollows and little valleys were brimming up with whitish haze and the flat elder blossoms spread unmoving in the heat of this glorious day.

On the seaward side, they overlooked a necklace of small, sun-drenched, white sand beaches, separated by coves and craggy coral rock outcroppings. Viewed from far above, the shoreline was spectacular, with the great Tyrrhenian Sea stretching out beyond, sprinkled with islets and dotted with boats on its turquoise surface. The Ferrari tore past clusters of pastel-hued cottages framed by flowering trees, nestling in the hills that rose to windswept bluffs, where every turning had a picture-postcard view of sprawling green land, coloured villas and blue waters.

The true sword in the stone

Visit the Chapel of Montesiepi, adjacent to the San Galgano Abbey in the Val di Merse countryside, and you’ll hear this legend:

In the 12th century there lived a knight named Galgano. He was a fearless warrior and fought bravely in countless battles. But he reached a point where the violence in which he was so often embroiled disgusted his stirring spiritual sensibilities, and when he saw a vision of the Archangel Michael, he was forever a changed man. And so, in pursuit of redemption for the pain and death he had wrought, he retreated to live the life of a hermit. Atop the Montesiepi hill, he had an epiphany and decided to dedicate his life to God. To do so, he knew he must renounce his former sins – and in symbolism of his rejection of violence, he took up his sword and plunged it down, down, down… until the sword stuck firm, with just the hilt and a little of the blade protruding, to form a cross. And the base for this self-created alter? A rock!

Eventually, Galgano would be recognised as a saint, and a formal chapel built around this miracle he had made. To this day, people come from far and wide to see the sword in the stone.

For a long time, it was assumed that the legend was nothing more than a fable – albeit a powerful one that was either inspired by or itself inspired the English legend of King Arthur and Excalibur. And yet, in 2001, when academics examined the sword, they discovered it is not, in fact, a fake; the metal of the sword dates it much earlier than modern times, and the style of the sword is suggestive of one made in the 12th century…

Follow the tour

If you’d like to read more Italian legends like this, and keep up with the accompanying Very Venetian giveaway in which lots of romantic goodies are up for grabs, follow the Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour this month:

1 May: Oh My Books!
7 May: Book Briefs
21 May: Simply Ali

WIN in the Very Venetian giveaway

At least one reader commenting on this post will WIN in the Very Venetian giveaway, with prizes totalling more than $600:

·       5 signed hardback copies of The Echoes of Love
·       10 signed paperback copies of The Echoes of Love
·       3 romantic Venetian masks

·    Lots of fabulously colourful Murano glass goodies: 16 pendants, 2 bracelets, 2 paperweights and a vase.

Anyone who comments on a blog tour stop post will be entered in the giveaway. Simply comment below, including your email address so that Hannah can contact the winners. Good luck!

About the author

Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. It was picked by The Sun newspaper as one of the most romantic books ever written.

Social media links

Book links

About the novel

Seduction, passion and the chance for new love. A terrible truth that will change two lives forever.
Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Italy’s most captivating city to work in her godmother’s architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone.
Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can’t help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them.
When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia must not only contend with a beautiful young rival, but also come face to face with the dark shadows of Paolo’s past that threaten to come between them.
Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo’s carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?


  1. Lovely post ladies . I do enjoy well researched historical romances. A labour of love.


  2. Fascinating post. I adore Italy, especially Venice and look forward to reading this.

  3. Great post, I am yet to visit Italy.

    Claire (

  4. Great article.

    It is so interesting just how much research and knowledge goes into an historical novel when an author cares about accuracy.

    Legends also make great material for new books.

  5. Definitely a dream contest! Literature and indulgence! Thanks for the chance......Anna at fatdogfarm(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

  6. Lovely post ladies, what a competition, thanks lynz xxx


  7. Reading your post brought back lovely memories of a trip to Venice a few years ago. Such a beautiful city.

  8. Love the cover. Mention a book is set in Venice and I'm all ears. This sounds like a fab read, perfect that the weather is still miserable here and I'm sure it would transform me to sunnier climes.

  9. Whoops! in my excitement I forgot to leave my email.

    Good luck everyone.


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