8th September 1943, and Claudette Blum and her father are among thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing over the Alps towards Italy.
For the Italians have broken with Hitler and sued for peace, and here the Blums hope to find safety at last.
But overnight the Nazis seize control and the country becomes a battleground - for the occupying German forces, the advancing allies, partisans, Jews in hiding and ordinary Italians simply trying to survive.
Against this dramatic backdrop and through the lives of a multitude of beautifully drawn characters - a mercurial resistance leader, a priest, an Italian rabbi and his family, and a disillusioned Wehrmacht doctor - Mary Doria Russell tells the little-known story of those who sought refuge in Italy during the final phase of the Second World War, and of those who risked all to help them.
It is a powerful, profoundly moving novel.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/03/2006
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780552772884
- EPUB from £3.99
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Review by mbergman
I listened to this on CD read by a woman who insisted on giving the various characters annoying accents, which detracted from my enjoyment, and I was somewhat distracted while listening to parts of it anyway. It's the story of a group of Jewish refugees in northern Italy during the last year of WWII. It's told with the same emotional, psychological, & intellectual complexity as Russell's earlier books. And it's also filled with priests & rabbis & other people of faith--and at least one cynic--acting on behalf of justice in the midst of unspeakable cruelty (which Russell does not flinch from depicting vividly).