Author: Caroline Moorehead
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: Parts of this were fascinating, but the beginning dragged and the end was abrupt.
After reading The Women in the Castle, about the widows of German resistance leaders, I was finally motivated to pick up another book about resistance around WWII. This story follows a mother and her three sons as they fight against fascism when Mussolini comes to power in Italy. Like The Women in the Castle, this book gave me yet another new perspective on WWII. I’m always amazed at how many unique books can be written on this time period! Obviously it was an eventful one, but I wonder if other periods would be equally rich if given the same attention. Anyway, I learned a lot from this book. Out of the Axis powers during WWII, I previously only knew anything about Germany. The time period this book covered enabled me to follow the rise of fascism in Italy, which was simultaneously terrifying, fascinating, and informative.
The beginning of this book wasn’t the strongest point for me. I felt like the author had done a lot of research and couldn’t bear to leave any of it out. Detailed descriptions were given for each of many cities our protagonists’ parents/grandparents lived in. It made this a slow book to get into. Eventually, I resigned myself to not being able to keep track of who every character was. I also got into the more exciting parts of the story, which included everything from running outlawed newspapers to attempted prison breaks. At this point, the details became more of a strength. I could vividly picture every scene. I did also learn a ton of history throughout.
Parts of the middle were a little more dry, depending on what was happening in our protagonists’ lives. Sometimes, they largely participated in resistance efforts by writing and planning for a future Italian government. The end (which the cover copy reveals in advance) was very abrupt. It didn’t include much discussion by the author of the significance of the lives of our protagonists. Parts of the middle of this book were incredibly gripping, and I really did love learning about a new setting. Overall, I found this to be pretty uneven though. The beginning was too slow, the ending too fast, and neither quite worked for me.