Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton
This book was not at all what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it all the same. It is a love story and family drama set within a real Italian village, Fonzaso, and although set during the rise of fascism in 20th Century Italy, and WWII, this is not a thriller or an adventure. The novel takes time to get going, with many names to remember, and not much action, but that’s fine by me, I have lots of patience and I’m prepared to give a novel time to warm up if I feel I’m in the hands of a trustworthy author. And this book is so well-written there is little doubt of that. My patience was repaid by a truly moving story of love and loss, and a wonderful testament to the power of women to keep going through thick and thin.
The commitment of Nina to her mother who has already lost her children to war or emigration is admirable, and really showed the strength of the bond between mother and daughter as well as its frustrations. When a tragedy strikes Nina, her mother, Adelasia, is there with advice and a strategy to see her through. The second half of the novel had me completely gripped and I was reluctant to tear myself away. The novel is based on a true family history and it shows in the loving attention to detail, and the inside knowledge of Italian life. I appreciated all the small details such as the description of Padua, the meals and customs and the Italian Catholic lifestyle. I also enjoyed being educated along with Nina as a 20th Century midwife, and marvelled at how much of a mystery women’s lives were then, even to women themselves. The roles of men and women at this time, and how they reacted differently to tragedy and war, is a major theme and this would make a great discussion topic for a book group.
All in all, this is a fantastic book well worth reading, and I warmly recommend it,.
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