In the fields around Tuscany in summertime, sunflowers grow in profusion--wave upon wave of gold and green standing tall against the Italian sky. But for Signora Maria Ferraro, the bright yellow blooms carry only bitter memories. Though she loved them as a child, sunflowers have come to represent the most painful episode of her life. Not even her cherished daughter, Anabella, knows what happened to her during World War II, when the Germans overran her hometown of Florence and Signora Ferraro fell in love with a Resistance fighter. In the aftermath of loss and grief she found salvation through an unlikely source--cultivating roses on her farm in the Tuscan countryside. Now the blossoms symbolize everything that is both good and safe, and she nurtures them with as much care as she guards her past.
Yet to Anabella, the rose farm that once delighted her has become little more than a pretty prison. Despite her beautiful surroundings, Anabella longs for more. During one of her regular visits to Siena to sell their flowers, Anabella encounters a handsome young artist named Dante Galletti. His canvases are filled with images of a girl who looks just like Anabella--and Dante claims to have seen her in his dreams, running through a sunflower field. Through Dante, Anabella begins to see sunflowers, her cloistered existence, and the world itself through new eyes. As their relationship deepens, Anabella knows she will soon have to choose between loyalty to her mother, and the risks and rewards of living on her own terms.
Alternating between the viewpoints of both mother and daughter, and between Italy during World War II and a quarter-century later, The Sunflower Girl is a poignant and moving story of the choices we make in the name of love, and the secrets that echo through generations.