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Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager - obsessed with music, food, and girls - but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino's parents force him to enlist as a German soldier - a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler's left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich's most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.
Rarely in life do we learn of unknown men and women who lived extraordinary lives far bigger than any Hollywood creation. Pino Lella is such a man. This story is based on actual, documented events in WW2 a 17 -18 year old Pino experienced.
We are introduced to Pino in the last two years of WW2. As the author points out, little is written in fiction or non-fiction about the virtual German occupation of Italy. Politically the two countries were considered allies, but in reality it was the German Army controlling Itialian forces as well as political policies. Mussolini was under house arrest by 1944-45, guarded by Germans. The country may have looked Fascist to the world, but its peoples were deeply divided politically between Fascist, Nazi, Communist and Democratic Populists.
Pino was and remains an upbeat, confident and humble man. Like most people who lived and fought in WW2, he reluctantly shared his story after over 50 years silence. In the two years he was active, he led jewish families to Sweden, joined the Nazi army as a spy, and was the driver for the highest ranking General in Italy. He served as the General's interpreter to Mussolini, and actually met him on numerous occasions. Keep in mind Pino was 18 when war ended.
The story is as complicated as Italy's politics were at the time. In under two years, Lella falls in love, becomes a hero by risking his life to save several Jewish families, joins the German Army to be a spy, is forsaken as a traitor to his friends and family and suffers tremendous loss through it all.
The writing and narration is eloquent and seemless. This is one of the best books Audible has to offer.
105 of 109 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I'm a daily listener to audiobooks while I commute. This book was SO good at captivating me and making mental images that it was almost too distracting to my driving!So in short, I dont write many reviews, but I LOVED this book...the story was great, the narrator was top-flight with excellent charachter portrayals, and the slice of life & time during WWII in N Italy satisfied the history buff in me. It really was as good or better than alot of fiction, but it was all true!
63 of 66 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Beneath a Scarlet Sky?
The author brought history and emotion together in a way that had me captivated from the first moment.
Who was your favorite character and why?
All of them, he did a great job developing all the characters into people I cared about. Regardless of how big or small their part was in the story.
25 of 26 people found this review helpful
This is one of the best books I've read or listened to, ever!!! I'm so thankful that such a gifted, talented writer took the time over 10 years to listen to and research this man's recounting of his life in Milan during World War II. Please take the time to read or listen to this book, in order to appreciate the heroism and sacrifice of this young man during the war. It makes me very sad, to think that without the persistence of this author, Pino could have died and his story never told! You'll never forget this book. Also, the narrator was the best!!!
44 of 47 people found this review helpful
Beneath the Scarlet Sky is set in northern Italy in and around Milan during WWII. It is a dramatized story of a young man named Pino Lella who was a hero of the fascist resistance. This interesting novel is well written and narrated. The story is excessively wordy and slow moving which I have decided to overlook due to its historical importance.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I really wanted to love this book. The story is very endearing, but I find the writing fairly lackluster, and unimaginative. If the story is something that you're interested in hearing, I recommend the audiobook versus reading it as the writing is very hard to get through. I know that the narrator is doing the best with the material he has, so this is by no way a disparaging remark on him.
This writer has horrible story voice. His metaphors and similes are tired, and uncreative. The story is a great premise, but I do not think the author has much talent. We are all still learning, so I hope to give him more chances in later books.
I do think this book would be good for young adults who are not that familiar with great works. This is a coming of age story that might be delightful for the growing youth, especially in this tumultuous time.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
This is an awesome story about a heretofore unknown Italian WW2 hero. Angst. Action. Love. Super character development. The narrator is spot on; no fake accents. I also liked that the author gave us an addendum to tell us what ultimately became of all the key characters.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
If someone would love a great story, almost beyond belief, and a true life hero who emerged when the times demanded a hero, then I would say - read this book!
What was one of the most memorable moments of Beneath a Scarlet Sky?
There were many moment, some heartbreaking (as a WWII era story, one would expect it) but also hope in the midst of overwhelming odds.
Have you listened to any of Will Damron’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Excellent performer. As any regular to Audible knows, the greatest works are those whose performers make the stories come alive - they go beyond just saying the words and they create characters and action through their talents. They become artists of the spoken word. Mr. Damron's presentation is dynamic, his vocal tone is resonant so very pleasing to listen to for a length of a book, and his acting skills are clearly key to a successful story. He was spot on for this demanding, enriching story.
Who was the most memorable character of Beneath a Scarlet Sky and why?
The main character - the hero of course. But much of the book is very memorable due to characters involved.
Any additional comments?
True stories of people who go beyond what they might do and become heroes when heroes are needed is just what we need right now! This is not a light story - no story of war would be or should be - but it is alive. Very important history.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
Truly remarkable. One of the best told WWII novels I've read/listened to. I felt like I could feel Pino's feelings throughout the entire story.
43 of 50 people found this review helpful
I rarely review, but this was such a different, human perspective of WW2 in Italy and showed so clearly, how murky options and people can be in real life. I will bear witness to Pino's story, and remember he and Anna always..great narration too.
20 of 23 people found this review helpful
The story of an AMAZING man! Made my heart pound, made me cry, laugh, sigh, angry, sad, afraid, horrified: the whole gamut of human emotions, more or less! Inspires me to live MY life “con smania” (with passion)!
Very well read, & performed, that adds SO MUCH MORE to the story than just reading alone: brings Pino to LIFE, in all his charm.
Great story which you can't let go, a glimpse into the a past, never forget
The story of Pino is simply amazing, showing a side of the war I had never really known. The impact on the lives of normal Italians and those who fought to get their country back. It’s sobering to think of all those people who were impacted in so many ways, and those whose lives were taken early by the nazi war machine. The only downside of this audio book was the performance-the narrator’s voice was rather annoying (which is a problem over 15 hours!) and given the topic, I assumed his Italian pronunciation might have been better!
What a fantastic story I couldn’t stop listening. An incredible insight into the war in Italy although heart breaking at times. Pino and his family have much to be proud of.
Ì usually read crime but decided to try this. and thoroughly enjoyed it. worth reading
A great story, emotional, heroic and real all in one. A really interesting and unusual historic perspective of WW2 to boot.
Loved this book, and the narration. This is a truly extraordinary story or an exceptional human being. A must read/listen for anyone. Make no mistake you will be crying multiple time through this story and the narrator did total justice to this grand story
A tale worth telling. 17 hours short. Difficult to predict. Even more difficult to stop.
I wasn't sure about reading a war story but this is very different, must read
I did not want this to end. So enjoyed every minute. narrated wonderfully. one of the best.
Fabulously well told with great research. I believe it could become a classic for the ages and certainly it is for me.