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The Light in the Ruins | [Chris Bohjalian]

The Light in the Ruins

It is 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered.
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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge - set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

It is 1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate's gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis' bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.

In 1955 Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case - a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood - Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.

Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart.

©2013 Chris Bohjalian (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Thoroughly gripping, beautiful, and astonishingly vengeful, this novel is a heartbreaker. Bohjalian's latest turn to historical fiction is immensely rewarding." (Library Journal)

"A literary thriller... a soulful why-done-it." (Kirkus Reviews)

"An exploration of post-WW II Italy doubles as a murder mystery in this well-crafted novel... an entertaining historical whodunit." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (154 )
5 star
 (43)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (38)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
3.9 (132 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (132 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (24)
2 star
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1 star
 (7)
Performance
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  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-14-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1019
    ratings
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    320
    162
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    "Kept me listening"

    I cant say that this is one of Chris Bohjalian's best books, but I enjoyed the narration and the story intrigued me. I liked the way he got into the details of life in Italy for a "noble" family during the German occupation and weaved a murder mystery/ serial killer into it.That was a bit contrived in my opinion but that is what fiction is all about! It was by no means a favorite for me but it was entertaining and kept my interest.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Siemens Vancouver, BC 08-16-13
    B. Siemens Vancouver, BC 08-16-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Breathes new life"

    This is another delectable treat from a proven, master of character development and story telling. I am so amazed that every novel that I read by Chris Bohjalian is a new and fresh treatment of his chosen topic. The Light in the Ruins does not disappoint as it breathes new life into a story of the travesties of war, the aftermath, and human touch that comes through.

    The two narrators in this Audiobook edition added to the whole experience with clarity and timing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Seneca Baton Rouge, LA, United States 08-03-13
    Seneca Baton Rouge, LA, United States 08-03-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narration is grindingly distracting."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The reader.


    What other book might you compare The Light in the Ruins to and why?

    No particular book, or 100 books, nothing too awfully distinctive.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Cassandra Campbell and Mark Bramhall ?

    Anyone with a voice ranger over approximately 1.5 octaves, who would therefore not have had to resort to "tricks" to create different voices. Helium inhaled falsetto for a child and other characters. 2nd soprano male voices because the reader can't dip any lower than the tone of the non-dialog text. Someone who understands that creating an irritating tone for a character is simply a distraction from the text. This is the author's story, not a vainglorious performance. Awful.


    Was The Light in the Ruins worth the listening time?

    Absolutely not. Quit and bought the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Fire this narrator. Don't equate female author with female narrator when there are an equal number of male characters. Worse than a waste of money.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Wall, NJ, United States 04-10-14
    Barbara Wall, NJ, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    4
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    "Bad In So Many Ways"
    What disappointed you about The Light in the Ruins?

    For me, the reader was impossible to listen to, between her horrible fake Italian accent and her slow pace (I thought my player was accidentally put on the slow setting). Then it seemed that the story wasn't going anywhere, although that might have been due to the narcoleptic reading. I deleted the book after enduring the nauseating graphic details of a murder.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I've enjoyed several books by Bohjalian so expected to find a riveting story. The story might be fine if reading it myself.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Cassandra Campbell and Mark Bramhall ?

    Mark Bramhall was fine but I do love listening to David Pittu. I'll bet Isabella Rossalini could do an excellent reading.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Net IL, United States 08-21-13
    Net IL, United States 08-21-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    8
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    "Good story, terrible performance"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Cassandra Campbell and Mark Bramhall ’s performances?

    No. Mark Bramhall was perfectly fine. Cassandra Campbell ruined the story for me


    Any additional comments?

    The performance is a complete distraction to the story. The fake voices are annoying and the accents are awful. This is my first negative review of a performance. This one just could not go without comment. Purchase the book rather than the audibook.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Robbins Caro, MI United States 08-28-13
    Shannon Robbins Caro, MI United States 08-28-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    15
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    Story
    "Suspenseful but a very sad story"
    What did you love best about The Light in the Ruins?

    The way the story was told, it kept me guessing until the end of the book.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It wasn't who I thought if would be.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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