This book does a wonderful job of showing the conversion of a Waldensian family to the Mormon Church, the sacrifices that they made for the restored Gospel that missionaries brought to them, and the sacrifices that the missionaries made in order to teach the Gospel. As the story revolves around one family and their survival in the rugged mountains of northern Italy, it also relates well the culture of the barba (priests) and people within the Waldensian Church, and the history of the Waldensian people. Mr. Bertoch has penned well the struggles of, I assume, the Bertoch family.
As a reader I would have appreciated footnotes to help establish fact from fiction. For example, as descendants of Philippe Cardon, our family has documented the route of immigration from the alps of Italy to the Utah or Desseret Territory as follows: from Prarustin (8 February 1854) by carriage to Pignerola. From there they traveled to Turin. Then they traveled by rail to the town of Susa, where they changed to a large coach. This coach was placed on sleds drawn by sixteen mules to carry them up steep Mount Cenas, through perpetual ice and snow, to Loundsburg on the Savoy side. By regular coach they went to Lyons, France, and from there to Paris by rail. From Paris they went by railway to Calais where they took a steamer to London. From London they went by rail to Liverpool where they waited for their ship, the "John M. Wood" for seventeen days. They finally sailed 12 March 1854. This route was documented by the writings of Marie Magdaline Cardon (who was 17 years old at the time of the journey and one of the friends of Marguerite in the book). The itinerary for this journey is very different than the continual walking over the alps to Geneva and then more walking on to Paris that Mr. Bertoch describes.
Another example of fact and fiction was the snowfall in the mountains and valleys of the Waldensians. According to guides in Italy the snowfall in this area is not as extreme as the book describes. True, the alps receive the huge snowfall which stays on the ground year round. When we were in Italy in November there was no snow on the ground in the towns in the Piedmont area. I am certain that it was very cold during the winter and that people basically hibernated in their homes, as the author suggests. Also, it is very possible that there were sudden large snow storms as described in the book when Daniel was hunting.
There were some grammatical errors in the book. I would have rated the book higher if the English were correct.
I enjoyed the family interactions of the principal family. I appreciated the values that the father taught his children. I liked the way the youngest son, James, tried to justify their new faith with the traditions of the Waldensians that they as a people had the true light of the Gospel and that it was their responsibility to hold it up to the world.
I appreciated having the Appendix include Elder Lorenzon Snow's report on the missionary labors in Italy. Also, the shorty history of the Waldensian People was helpful.
I applaude Mr. Bertoch for keeping the story of the conversion of the Waldensian people alive.