A sentence to summarise:
A historically poignant novel that shows the numerous paths taken in war, the impending terror of Nazi/Fascist power and the love that acts as a life-jacket for the people, giving them the strength to face the waves of devastation and death.
A little plot snippet:
The title of the novel – “An Italian Affair”- initially rings the romantic bells in your mind. An alluring affair in the charming country of Italy you surmise. Though the novel has a heavily focused story line on the power of love between two people, the term “affair” is more prevalent through the meeting of three nations in the heart of the Italian countryside before and during WW2. Caroline Montague’s incredible story focuses on the links between England and Italy through the bloodlines of the protagonists: Alessandra, Robert and Diana. After a tragic event in their lives, the family are forced to walk along different paths that will ultimately test their characters whilst introducing them to people they never knew they needed. Alessandra and Diana embark on a journey to Italy to the countryside farm they have inherited whereas Robert, stays in England with his godfather Douglas to complete school. Over the course of the novel, each character sets sail on an unfamiliar ride, facing dilemmas and disasters that threaten not only themselves, but those closest to them. We follow stories of British pilots, spies and romance as well as the relationships between Alessandra, Diana, their Italian community and their Jewish companions that they sacrifice their safety for. Apart from the manipulative and monstrously minded characters, all of the protagonists (including a furry friend) are heroes in their own right for the challenges they face. This novel is a powerful reflection of human willpower in a truly terrible time. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was besotted and was undeniably disappointed when it ended. The characters were written so beautifully that I didn’t want them to leave my life.
A Captivating Quote:
“Beatrice felt her courage and love envelop her. She looked at the soldiers who now raised their rifles. She reached for her brother’s hand and said her final prayer. She shut her eyes tight, and the last thing she heard was the roar of the sea.” (Page 53)
The chapter in which this quote is retrieved from, is written so powerfully. I sobbed and wept for a good five minutes after. Montague captures the horrendous heartache and anguish of those who suffered at than hands of the cold-hearted fascists.
Although I found a deep admiration for many of the characters in this book (mostly Nico the dog and Griselda the goat), I found myself drawn to Davide. His experiences within the story gave him the strength to fight for his faith and country. Becoming a part of the resistance, Davide is held on the edge of death numerous times. Whilst his bravery and determination is prominent, what stands out to me, is his compassion and kindness for those he meets. He is a sensitive soul with a strong core.
“An Italian Affair” by Caroline Montague.
Published by Orion, 2019, London.