By Belinda Alexandra
Book was provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Finish Time: 8 Nights. Wow. This books packs A LOT into it and was definitely not what I expected. My expectation was a nice historical romance (from the nice pretty cover), maybe a little mystery or suspense, but definitely not what I read. A bit disturbing, very intriguing, not a dull moment, this book was action packed from the moment I picked it up. Many of the last few nights were spent up late rapidly turning the pages of this book.
I’ll starting by saying this book was “not my favorite” (that is how we explain things to our kids!). There was much about this book I liked, but some that was just not my taste. Not a bad thing and the things that didn’t fit my preference may fit yours. If you’ve read my reviews for a while, I do have genres I like but I’ve definitely been pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and this book (unbeknownst to me) was one of those. While it is very well written, the subject matter – Italy in the early 1900’s under Mussolini’s Fascist leadership – is a dark, dreary, awful time of history, and makes for a very depressing read. There were parts I enjoyed, but the last few nights I was desperate for this book to be over, hoping the graphic imagery did not enter my dreams.
I enjoyed Rosa as a main character. Her transformation throughout the book was amazing and her struggles hurt my heart. No one should have to endure as much as she did. She never had a “woe-is-me” attitude, thought through every action, learned from the past, all while having a huge heart. Her compassion and love for animals hit home with me and I enjoyed that theme coming back often through several animals throughout the book. The people she met all left an impression on her heart and I did enjoy many characters from her past popping up throughout the book, sometimes when you least expected it.
I enjoyed the mystery woven in as throughout the book, Rosa collected pieces of information about her history (the book begins with her being dropped off as an infant at a convent). Bits and pieces were spread out throughout the book and it really had you (and Rosa) guessing until the very end.
Words that do not describe this book are: happy, predictable, or settling. (You can figure out the opposite of those!) Non-stop action, no idea what would happen next, so many twist and turns, all until the very end. I do think it was a good book, it challenged me, had me thinking what I would do (but thanking God I have never been in any of those situations), and hanging on til the very end to see what happened. It was just such a heart-wrenching period of history and the author did not spare the readers of any details. Not a terrible thing at all, just maybe a book to read more during the day (versus right before bed.)
I’ve mentioned before, and I will say it again, as it is true with this book. I love when an author writes a note to their readers at the end. Especially with historical books (as I’m definitely not a history buff), it helps me decipher what really happened versus what was made up. In this case, I really enjoyed learning that one of the animal characters was actual a real dog! His name was Fido, meaning “faithful” in Latin, and he waiting everyday at a bus stop for his owner. His owner tragically passed away as a result of WW2, yet Fido kept coming back and waiting, which grabbed the attention of the town. A story that has me in tears now reading more about it, but both heart warming and breaking as the love of animals is an unconditional one, which is also a passion of the author’s (which makes me like her so much more!) Read more about Fido’s story HERE. And see his monument at the end!
I could go on, but we’ll leave it at that. This book is well written, has great characters, mystery, suspense, romance, passion, war, really something to please everyone. My one complaint is just the amount of detail around some very graphic, gruesome, disturbing happenings. Maybe it adds to the emotion around the book and paints a true scene, but all I can say is it’s not for me and I think next will be something a little lighter? Who knows though – the great thing about books is that they can surprise you!