Category Archives: Italy

Echoes of War by Tania Blanchard -a review

echoes of warEchoes of War by Tania Blanchard

Set in Mussolini’s Italy amid great upheaval, this is the story of one woman’s determination to find her place in a world that men are threatening to tear apart. Another heart-rending novel inspired by a true story from Australia’s bestselling author of The Girl from Munich.

Calabria, Italy, 1936

In a remote farming village nestled in the mountains that descend into the sparkling Ionian Sea, young and spirited Giulia Tallariti longs for something more. While she loves her home and her lively family, she would much rather follow in her nonna’s footsteps and pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

But as Mussolini’s focus shifts to the war in Europe, civil unrest looms. Whispers of war are at every corner and her beloved village, once safe from the fascist agenda of the North, is now in very real danger.

Caught between her desire to forge her own path and her duty to her family, Giulia must draw on the passion in her heart and the strength of her conviction.

Can she find a way to fulfill her dreams or will the echoes of war drown out her voice?

Published 29 September 2021|  Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I am partial to war stories but this novel, Echoes of War, isn’t really a war story but a story of womanhood but set within a time of war. This is not to say that the protagonist wasn’t affected by war but just that she was not directly involved in it. All in all, it did not detract from the story of passion, resilience, and strength of this girl’s journey into womanhood.

Giulia Tallariti, our protagonist, is a passionate young woman who has a very clear vision of her future. A vision which was not shared by her father who has his own preconception and therefore resulted in a number of clashes between daughter and father. While fighting for her future, the country itself is turmoil. From wars, natural disasters, and poverty, Giulia and her family stuck together through thick & thin as she sought and found her place in her family & society.

I’m not afraid to confess that I cried a number of times; as you’d expect from such stories. Echoes of War is a novel full of anxiety, heartbreaks, family, sisterhood, and love. What fascinated me most was author’s notes as she described her own family history and how it influenced her writing especially with some of her own family stories woven into this telling; utterly captivating.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Review: Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair

Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

Published 21 May 2018 |  Publisher: Harlequin MIRA  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Burning Fields is a novel set in post-war Australia where men struggled with the things they saw in war & women struggled at being expected to step back to their relegated role in the home. This novel tries to reconcile these 2 issues in a typically Australian outback setting. The lush and promising land beguiled all to believe that anything is possible.

This novel opens with Rosie Stanton returning to her family farm after she lost her bid for independence. Both her brothers went to war and neither returned. She is reluctant to face her parents and their grief. Despite her love for the farm and her capabilities, her father will not have her working at the farm. Her mother appears to be struggling with her own demons. Rosie is determined for her father to recognise her abilities and help her mother. There is also the attractive newcomer at the next farm…

Tomas Conti & his family are the new neighbours. Despite their attraction, Tomas is a troubled man. His recognition of Rosie’s independence is a big plus but will he be able to put the past behind to live in the present?

The story is mainly told from Rosie’s perspective in the present. Every few of Rosie’s chapter is broken by a chapter of Tomas’ perspective from the past (the war in Italy). I must say that each of Tomas’ chapters filled me with dread as I expected whatever horrid thing to happen then. Both characters are easily likeable and I enjoyed Rosie’s persistent effort to be recognise as being capable as any man.

Burning Fields is an easy and enjoyable read. It was rather easy to put down & pick back up again. It is a sweet romance and I love how the town people (or rather most of them anyway) get together as a community to support each other.

Thanks to Harlequin MIRA & Netgalley for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Alli Sinclair is an Australian multi-award winning author published who has lived in Argentina, Peru, and Canada. She’s climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and worked as a tour guide in South and Central America. Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart as she loves the diverse landscapes and the rich multicultural heritage of this wonderful land.

Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

Find Alli on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: The Deliverance of Evil

deliveranceThe Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia via The Reading Room

The curious thing, when you’re reading a translated work, is that you’re always wondering about the original work and how close the translated version is to the original language. Whether there are nuances missed or certain implication that’s inadvertently lost on you due to language / culture differences. Nevertheless, translating literature piece is not easy and my compliments to all translators out there who do not just translate the words but also succeed in bringing forward the atmosphere, the nuances, and the effect intended by the authors. This is coming from someone who is fluent in 2 languages.

Reading a crime / mystery novel, you’d always try to pick up all the clues and guess whodunit before it’s revealed. I tried it with this book as well and whilst I did get it near the ending, I kept questioning whether something’s amiss due to it being translated from another language; especially in regards to one particular clue which I cannot disclose. Setting this aside, however, I managed to enjoy the beauty of Italy and of life there.

“You’re a likeable idiot, Michele, but a dangerous one. Paola advised me to steer clear of you.”

Michele Balistreri, to begin with, was an aimless, self-centred, womaniser –basically, an idiot. He’s hiding from his past and yet, unable to move on. He was living for himself and for pleasure, nothing else truly matter until his attitude in solving a murder brought some inexcusable consequences. Fast forward 24 years into the future, this unsolved murder came back to haunt him but this time, he is an older man somewhat broken with damages wrought by time and lifetime of pleasure. This time, though, he is determined not to let evil stand.

I downed a bottle of whisky and found myself reflecting drunkenly on the fact that this wasn’t the usual childhood melodrama that the infant Mike had fed himself on. I was no longer the ‘Michelino’ who watched Westerns, the fearless cowboy who killed all the bad guys. I was a man of thirty-two who didn’t give a shit about anyone, not even himself. I knew the reason well enough – they were all very clear.

And now what the fuck was I looking for? Did I want to absolve myself? Did I want to avoid eternal remorse by finding evil? And what evil?

It changed little; fate was not in agreement with me anyway.

To begin with, the mystery sounds quite simple: a beautiful woman went missing and years later, more have gone missing. Things are never quite what they seem, however, as the nature of each characters are revealed, piece by piece. The crimes, the deceptions, the corruptions are woven in a complex layer and brought into a well fitted jigsaw puzzles. The Deliverance of Evil is a sterling piece of crime novel featuring a world where corruption reigns and evil abounds; where a broken man haunted by his past seeks to put things to right and yet he is only a man. Despite the dark world of crime and corruption, there was also innocence to be found and beauty and… love. I would highly recommend this book to mystery lovers.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia via The Reading Room for copy of book

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Review: Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault's Pendulum
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So very slow and boring!

I have heard from a colleague that it was a very good book so maybe I’m just not intellectual enough to comprehend but seriously, it cannot be more boring! It actually nearly put me to sleep and not many books do that.

The beginning of the book opens with narrator, Casaubon, hiding away in the Conservatoire when they were about to close – so he could find something out after it’s closed. The premise here is almost like a thriller but then the rest of the book (save the last 70 pages or so) was spent on how and why he got there. And this part, unless you’re a big fan (and I mean Big Maniacal Fan) of Knights Templar conspiracy theory, you won’t care for.

I was hoping that the end of the book (last 70 pages or so) will be, at least, ‘thriller-like’ to make my time worth it. Blearrgh, I must really have too high an expectation of this book. Even with the ending, whilst implied, I was pretty much left hanging to make my own assumptions.

A completely frustrating book and not at all like The Name of the Rose!

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