The Chapel at the Edge of the World, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Emilio and Rosa are childhood sweethearts, engaged to be married.

But it is 1942 and the war has taken Emilio far from Italy, to a tiny Orkney island where he is a POW.

Rosa must wait for him to return and help her mother run the family hotel on the shores of Lake Como, in Italy. Feeling increasingly frustrated with his situation, Emilio is inspired by the idea of building a chapel on the barren island.

The prisoners band together to create an extraordinary building out of little more than salvaged odds and ends and homemade paints.

Whilst Emilio's chapel will remain long after the POW camp has been left to the sheep, will his love for Rosa survive the hardships of war and separation?

For Rosa is no longer the girl that he left behind. She is being drawn further into the Italian resistance movement and closer to danger, as friendships and allegiances are ever complicated by the war. Human perseverance and resilience are at the heart of this strong debut and the small Italian chapel remains, as it does in reality on the island of Lamb's Holm, as a symbol of these qualities.


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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I got this from the library, intrigued as I have visited the little chapel in the title on the Orkneys. It is a WW2 tale of Italian prisoners on the island and a fiancee back at home on Lake Como dealing with occupation. It was well written but somehow falls a bit flat. The chapel itself does not feature as much as I thought it would.

Review by

Having visited the Italian Chapel on Orkney a couple of years ago, I couldn't resist buying this book when I saw it. The chapel is a magical place, and I thought I would learn more about the prisoners of war who built it and their camp. But I have to say that the book is a little flat and lacking in detail. The plot flips between the Orkney camp, where Emilio spends his time painting the chapel and his home town in Italy, where his fiancee Rosa is dealing with refugees, political prisoners and another lover. I couldn't really engage with any of the characters, and found their attitudes and conversation stilted and changeable. Generally the plot flowed along and there are good 'bookends' to the story which brings it up to the present, but in general I was disappointed.

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