#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : The Lost Boy of Bologna – Francesca Scanacapra @FrancescaScana2

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The Lost Boy of Bologna

Today I’m on the ‘The Lost Boy of Bologna’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

tzet_Ul9_400x400Francesca Scanacapra was born in Italy to an English mother and Italian father, and her early childhood was spent in Bologna, the city whose rich history has been the inspiration for the Bologna Chronicles series of novels. Francesca’s adult life has been somewhat nomadic with periods spent living in Italy, England, France, Senegal and Spain. In 2021 she returned to her native country and back to her earliest roots to pursue her writing career full time. She now resides permanently in rural Lombardy in the house built by her great-grandfather which was the inspiration for her Paradiso Novels.

Social Media Links:
Twitter
Instagram

Synopsis :

The Lost Boy of BolognaBologna, 1929. A newborn baby boy is abandoned by his desperate unmarried mother, who believes he is dead and that she is to blame. Heartbroken, she leaves her child, accepting that her actions will haunt her for the rest of her days. But unbeknown to her, the kindness of a stranger means the starving baby survives. And so begins the extraordinary life of Rinaldo Scamorza
Following several years in an orphanage, where Rinaldo still holds onto the hope that his mother will come to claim him, he is entrusted to a heartless foster-mother who treats her charges as nothing more than financial opportunities. Yet amidst the cruelty and violence of this loveless environment Rinaldo meets fellow orphan, Evelina, and the two children create a bond which they believe will never be broken.
Rinaldo holds tight to the few people who show him love, and he becomes a loyal, intelligent and kind boy. But his life is shattered when aged barely 13, Evelina is sold into prostitution by their foster-mother.
As he grows up and becomes more resourceful, he finds work as an errand boy in a brothel, where he encounters Evelina once again. But in his efforts to help her escape her life of exploitation, another dark misfortune pulls them apart and she disappears.
When at last Italy begins to emerge from the shadows of World War II and Bologna’s economy recovers, Rinaldo uses his intimate knowledge of the city to change his life for the better. But through everything, the successes and the moments of loneliness and misery, the women he yearns to see again – Evelina and his mother – are always on his mind…
Fans of Angela Petch, Helen Fripp, Dinah Jeffries, Rhys Bowen and Louise Douglas will adore this captivating historical novel.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Excerpt :

Here, the protagonist, Rinaldo, is seven years old. He is an orphan living in the city of Bologna. The year is 1936.

There was a private school in Via Saragozza. The boys who attended it wore smart black smocks with white collars and a turquoise bow. The school crest was embroidered in gold on the breast pocket. These boys fascinated Rinaldo. They weren’t like the boys from the ordinary schools whose smocks, if they had them, were a rag-tag of faded, mismatched things made from old shirts and anything else which came to hand.
One day Rinaldo was sitting on a wall not far from the school minding his own business when the thwack of a stone hitting the back of his neck knocked him off it. It took him a few moments to understand what had happened. It was the laughter of two private-school boys which made him realise that the stone had come from them. They didn’t run off when he saw them. They just kept laughing. The second stone hit Rinaldo on the forehead.
Once the stars had cleared from his vision, Rinaldo got to his feet, retrieved the stones and threw them back, but his giddiness made him miss and the boys sauntered off, calling him a poor boy and an idiot. Rinaldo decided that it would not be the end of the matter.
He spent several days observing the boys from a vantage point behind some dustbins opposite the school. The boys, obviously brothers, one older than Rinaldo and one of approximately the same age, would come out at four o’clock and make their way along Via Saragozza. They would stop for sweets almost every day. Rinaldo noted that the man in the confectionery shop was very nice to them, often giving them a little something extra. This annoyed Rinaldo. He had never been given anything by a shopkeeper. More often than not, he was kicked out of shops for looking shifty.
The boys’ home was a grand mansion on the Viale. On their arrival home they would be greeted by a maid, who, having set a table for them on the veranda, would immediately set about serving them cake, despite the fact that they had just eaten sweets. Rinaldo gazed into their garden from behind the railings as the boys ate some of what the maid had served them and fed the rest to a little fat dog.
Several things played on Rinaldo’s mind. Revenge for the stone-throwing was one of them, but above all, it was the way the boys were treated by the shopkeepers. He wondered whether if he too was dressed smartly, he would be given the same treatment.
Finding himself once again outside the mansion on the Viale, an opportunity arose. The boys had finished their afternoon snack – or rather, they had started it and the dog had finished it – and had gone inside. Shortly after, the maid brought out their smocks to beat the chalk-dust from them, then left them to air on the washing line.
At lightning speed, Rinaldo darted into the garden and took the smaller smock. He rolled it under his arm and was about to make his escape, but then he spotted a little fresh dog turd on the grass. He picked it up with a leaf. It was soft and still warm. Rinaldo placed it in the pocket of the remaining smock, then gave it few firm squeezes to make sure it was well-rubbed into the fabric.
‘That’s for the stones,’ he said quietly and slipped out of the garden.
Rinaldo hid the smock under his bed and would take it out and look at it whenever the dormitory was empty. He longed to wear it, but there was a problem. Although he had a smock, and one which fitted surprisingly well, he only had old boots. One had come unstitched where his toes had broken through and both soles had holes. The problem plagued him. He had been back to the mansion on the Viale numerous times in the hope that the maid would put the boys’ shoes outside to air, but luck had not been on his side.
Nevertheless, the urge to wear the smock nagged at him like an unreachable itch. Unable to stand it any longer, Rinaldo decided he would risk it.
He paraded around the dormitory practising talking like the private-school boys, dropping his heavy Bolognese dialect and enunciating the words in his best Italian. Pronouncing the letter ‘s’ was tricky. It was best done through his front teeth with his chin in the air.
Eventually he crept out of the house with some trepidation, but it was not long before he realised that people were looking at him differently, respectfully even, although a few did cast questioning glances at his broken boots. Emboldened by their reactions, Rinaldo strode with confidence, practising his private-school boy voice in his head, until a lady in a fur stole stopped him.
‘Whatever’s happened to your shoes, dear boy?’ she asked.
Rinaldo stood dumbstruck for a moment and considered making a run for it, then blurted out, ‘A poor boy took them.’
‘Oh, how awful!’ exclaimed the lady. ‘Is that why you’re not at school, dear?’
‘Yes,’ replied Rinaldo solemnly, remembering to pronounce his ‘s’ properly.
‘What’s happened to your spare pair?’
Rinaldo stood up a little straighter, his confidence boosted by the fact that dressed in the smock he looked rich enough to own spare shoes.
‘They’re being mended,’ he said.
He thought that would be the end of their encounter, but the lady took his hand and accompanied him to the cobbler’s shop.
‘This young man has come to collect his shoes,’ she announced in a commanding tone, which made the cobbler put down his hammer immediately. ‘I sincerely hope that they’re ready. The child has had his other shoes stolen by an urchin and he’s unable to go to school until he is properly shod.’
The cobbler squinted at Rinaldo, although he didn’t seem to pay much attention to Rinaldo’s face, only to his smock and to the fact that he was holding the hand of an elegant lady in a fur stole.
‘What’s the name?’ he asked, spitting out the tacks from between his lips. ‘Zappatelli?’
Rinaldo had no idea who Zappatelli was, but he replied ‘Yes’, trying to keep his voice steady.
The cobbler cast his gaze along the numerous pairs of shoes lined up on the shelves behind his bench and without further question handed over a pair of newly re-heeled shoes which were so highly-polished that Rinaldo could see his own reflection in the toes.
‘I’ll put them on the account,’ said the cobbler and Rinaldo left the shop in Zappatelli’s shiny shoes thinking that it had all been remarkably easy.
From then on, and with significant self-assurance, Rinaldo adopted his new persona of wealthy private-school boy, although he was careful not to be seen anywhere near the school when he was dressed in his smock. He also avoided the cobbler’s.
As he had suspected, being well-dressed made people treat him very differently. Shopkeepers would let him have things and demand no payment when he said, ‘Thank you. Please put it on my mother’s account.’
On the rare occasions when he was asked for a name, he would reply, ‘Zappatelli.’
Being better fed caused a significant growth spurt which meant that within six months of appropriating the private school smock and shoes, he outgrew them.
Rinaldo had been a victim of his own success.

Giveaway :

Win 5 x PB copies of The Lost Boy of Bologna (Open to UK Only)
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