I created the following list of questions to provide topics for your conversation. I hope that these items will enrich your discussion and increase your enjoyment of It Happened in Tuscany.
- The ideals of honor and duty are held high by members of the military. We often assume these moral virtues are one and the same. It Happened in Tuscany highlights circumstances in which the two attributes might be mutually exclusive. Discuss this internal conflict and how it might be mitigated for members of the military and first-responders.
- Discuss how Will’s choices of duty over honor affected his life. Would you have made the same choices as he did during the war and afterward?
- How were the decisions Francesca and Will made similar, and how did they differ? Do you think Francesca waited to write her letter to Will or was the delay a product of the post-war mail service? Why might she have deliberately waited before writing Will?
- What were the early turning points in Will and Sophie’s relationship that led to their friendship? Why did they do these things, when the actions seem incongruous with their nature?
- What made Sophie accept Will’s invitation to travel with him to Italy—guilt, loneliness, desperation, curiosity, or something else?
- If you were Francesca, would you have shared the details of your past with your family? Why or why not?
- Research the timeline of the 10th Mountain Division’s path through Italy and discuss why they succeeded in breaking Germany’s Gothic Line when previous attempts had failed.
- Imagine what living in a German-occupied town in Italy during World War II was like. Discuss how aspects of everyday life—cooking, transportation, housing, and making a living—might have been different because of the war.
- Share stories of World War II veterans you know, or knew, with your reading group.
- Many veterans of World War II were quiet about their war years and experiences. What factors influenced their silence?
- Why do you think Sophie tells untruths about her skills and knowledge?
- How are Sophie’s and Will’s dark secrets similar, and how are they different?
- Discuss with your group whether you were surprised by Will’s decisions at the beginning and end of the book.
- Learn about and discuss the impact the 10th Mountain Division had on the ski industry in the United States.
- Discuss the different types of “family” that are present in the story and how they shaped the characters’ lives.