Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review: A Letter from Italy

Title: A Letter from Italy
Author: Pamela Hart
Publisher: 14 March 2017 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 333 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, womens fiction
My Rating: 5 cups


Inspired by the life of the world's first woman war correspondent, Australia's Louise Mack, the most sweeping love story yet by Pamela Hart

1917, Italy. Australian journalist Rebecca Quinn is an unconventional woman. At the height of World War I, she has given up the safety of her Sydney home for the bloody battlefields of Europe, following her journalist husband to the frontline as a war correspondent in Italy.

Reporting the horrors of the Italian campaign, Rebecca finds herself thrown together with American-born Italian photographer Alessandro Panucci, and soon discovers another battleground every bit as dangerous and unpredictable: the human heart.

A passionate and poignant love story set on the beautiful Italian coast by the bestselling author of The Soldier's Wife and The War Bride

My Thoughts

‘What was a girl from Sydney doing standing on a barbed-wired beach in Italy in the darkness of night with a Venetian smuggler and a photographer from New York?’

I was ecstatic when I received this book to review and now having turned the last page, my sigh is a contented one. Having read Pamela Hart books before, my expectations were high and she did not let me down. A Letter from Italy is historical fiction at its best.

Inspired by the world's first woman war correspondent, this tale is real and heart breaking, a moving tribute to her courage and strength. A Letter from Italy tells the story of Rebecca Quinn, abandoned by her husband, choosing to remain in Italy to continue corresponding war news, overcoming many an obstacle in the process. This truly is a testimony to the courage and persistence of many women during these challenging times. When women had little to no rights (especially in Italy at the time), she stands her ground taking on men and inspiring those around her.

‘For the sake of every girl in the world who might like to be a journalist, of every woman who wanted to stop writing about fashion and hairstyles, and engage with meatier stories, she had to succeed. She had to.’

However, there is much more to this story (as if that wasn’t enough) and it’s fast pace will keep you turning the pages. There is the stunning Italian coastline brought to life under an armada of warships. There is the war itself and the bravery undertaken by those both at the front and left behind. Read along as a traditional way of living is questioned and challenged and ultimately, must learn to evolve. And then there are the array of remarkable characters, adding real substance to the entire tale - from Nonna Rosa down to villagers escaping the bombing.

‘Did they have the right to expect women here to speak up, to agitate, to join the cause when they were part of a civilisation which had stayed unchanged for so long, and endured so successfully?’

Now I must take a moment to talk about the lovely Sandro/Al Baker. He is just wonderful in so many ways. Ineligible to fight, he learns to face the fallout both in America and Italy - but where exactly does he fit in? Is he Al or Sandro? Is he American or Italian? As he struggles to find his place both in society and within himself, he will take you on a photographic journey of these troubling times. Throughout it all you cannot help but admire and hope that his well deserved happy ending might indeed come.  

‘He was so dependable. Solid and real and human, always calm. She could rely on him.’

A Letter from Italy just flows so beautifully. The characters are rich and engaging; the plot involves many intricately woven threads throughout; the descriptions of Italy and its people are memorable. This is such a great story which captivated me from the beginning and did not let go until the fitting conclusion. If you want great Australian historical fiction, then Pamela Hart is your ‘go to’.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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