My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first started reading this book, I was not expecting much. I picked it up randomly from my bookshelf after finishing WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? NOTES ON A SCANDAL, which I loved. The prose in this book was lovely, just lovely. The author used a combination of Italian and German phrases throughout the novel to emphasize the setting and the personalities of the characters. Cracking open the book I was surprised and somewhat disheartened to see a cast of characters as one of the first pages. Being a person who normally has quite a few books on the go, I knew that I would be frequently referencing back to the list as I would rarely remember who is who. I was surprised to find that I only looked back once or twice. Each character is so distinct–even when they’re playing a “double role”!–that they were easy to remember.
It’s a sad book. There are no winners in it, much like there weren’t any during the war. While the setting and characters are fictional, the author’s dedication to historical detail, her beautiful, easy prose, and the complex, characters that she creates–characters that you really mourn when they die–all of these factors coalesce into a really outstanding book about Jewish/Italian resistance in Italy during World War II. Can’t recommend it enough, but, fair warning, it will make you want to cry.