A grey dawn in 1943: on a street in Rome, two young women, complete strangers to each other, lock eyes for a single moment.
One of the women, Chiara Ravello, is about to flee the occupied city for the safety of her grandparents' house in the hills. The other has been herded onto a truck with her husband and their young children and will shortly be driven off into the darkness.
In that endless-seeming moment, before she has time to think about what she is doing, Chiara makes a decision that changes her life for ever. Loudly claiming the woman's son as her own nephew, she demands his immediate return; only as the trucks depart does she begin to realize what she has done.
She is twenty-seven, single, with a sister who needs her constant care, a hazardous journey ahead of her, and now a child in her charge - a child with no papers who refuses to speak and gives every indication that he will bolt at the first opportunity.
Three decades later Chiara lives alone in Rome, a self-contained, self-possessed woman working as a translator and to all appearances quite content with a life which revolves around work, friends, music and the theatre. But always in the background is the shadow of Daniele, the boy from the truck, whose absence haunts her every moment.
Gradually we learn of the havoc wrought on Chiara, her family, and her friends by the boy she rescued and how he eventually broke her heart. And when she receives a phone call from a teenage girl named Maria, claiming to be Daniele's daughter, Chiara knows that it is time for her to face up to the past.
This epic novel is an unforgettably powerful, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and inspiring tale of love, loss, and war's reverberations down the years.
©2015 Virginia Baily (P)2015 Hachette Audio
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"Sadly spoiled by the silly voices"
Yes I would like to read her other novel but sorry to say the narration left me cold. It rather trivialised the whole story and made me dislike the characters who, had I read the book, I feel sure I would have had empathy with.
"Funny and Warm"
Funny and warm, did slightly remind me of Dot/ Nick Cotton from Eastenders at times set in Rome. Lovely story.
"Early One Morning"
It took a little while to get into the story while the author develops the characters as the book jumps back and forth between the WWII setting and the 70s but persistence pays off.
It is a story that unfolds slowly from a tight bud to a beautiful flower. The horror, deprivation and hopelessness experienced by the Jews and indeed all Italians during the war is vividly described.
After all the love, loss and grief it is one woman's ability to hold on to the small kernel of hope that makes the joyous ending worth waiting for.
"Good idea by poorly executed"
I like the idea for this story. It starts with a dilemma during war time and follows how an instantaneous decision can shape a life - a bit like a Sophie's Choice. However instead of sticking with the historic storyline set in World War Two, it switches to modern day with a stroppy Welsh teen in a dysfunctional family and an old Lady in Italy living in the past. The two stories have an obvious link that is quickly revealed and there are some nice twists along the way, but the modern storyline for me was just boring. I wanted more of the historic stuff which would have helped me feel for the characters. As it was they felt paper thin and I really didn't care much. I'm not sure if this is a debut novel and the ideas are good - but for me it just needed a better structure and execution.
Overall the performance was disappointing. The narrator kept a monotonous tone throughout and there were a few glaring mispronunciations. Overall great idea, average listen.
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