Florence, 1943. Two sisters, Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio, find themselves surrounded by terror and death; and with Italy trapped under the heel of a brutal Nazi occupation, bands of Partisans rise up.
Soon Isabella and Caterina will test their wits and deepest beliefs as never before. As the winter grinds on, they will be forced to make the most important decisions of their lives. Their choices will reverberate for decades.
In the present day, Alessandro Pallioti, a senior policeman agrees to oversee a murder investigation, after it emerges the victim was once a Partisan hero. When the case begins to unravel, Pallioti finds himself working to uncover a crime lost in the twilight of war, the consequences of which are as deadly today as they were over sixty years ago.
Florence, September 8, 1943
My wedding dress slid over my shoulders and hips, the ivory satin cool and slippery. It was barely noon, and already a blanket of stuffy air hung above the city, turning the sky a pale, dirty blue. I could feel my hair wilting and sticking to the back of my neck as the seamstress's assistants, a cadre of silent young girls in pink pinafores, fastened the back, their deft fingers working the rows and rows of tiny buttons. When they were finished, they took me by each arm, like an invalid, and stood me on a stool.
A clock was ticking in the front of the salon, marking the time in thick, syrupy drops, and I tried not to count in my head. Crazy people count in their heads. Hysterics and lunatics. Thirty-two seconds passed before the signora herself came into the fitting room. She looked at me and made a clicking sound with her teeth. Then she went to work. With every tuck and prick, the dress tightened, until I began to wonder if this was how a snake...
The parallel stories weave together nicely, and each is intricate and equally engrossing; indeed, I found the book very hard to put down from start to finish regardless of which plot line I was following. Grindle’s characters, past and present, are also brilliant creations - detailed and full of life, without a flat character to be found anywhere in the novel.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1120 words).
Italy's role during WWII can seem puzzling, as the country gave the appearance of switching allegiances more than once during the course of the conflict, at times ostensibly siding with the Axis powers, at others supporting the Allies. This contradiction, though, can be seen as a reflection of a volatile period in Italy's history, as various political factions sought to gain control.
King Victor Emmanuel III (1869 – 1947) ascended the throne of Italy on 29 July 1900. Reforms were already well underway to convert the country to a constitutional monarchy with the king as head of the government. Most governing decisions were reached via consensus between the two chambers of parliament – an appointed Senate and an elected ...
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Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, Russell's ambitious and engrossing novel tells the little known story of how Italian citizens saved more than 43,000 Jews during the last 20 months of WWII.
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