Love, Lies, and Betrayal in Wartime Italy.
Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences.
Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested, and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything.
Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.
But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people's lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.
Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation.
There was a lot to love in this story of consequences. Ms. Johnson writes with humanity, aware of all the ways our lives (and those we love) betray us.
I'm from a small town in Idaho, so I loved the way that Ms. Johnson portrayed the pervasiveness of tragedy. There is no life untouched and, usually, unharmed when evil enters tight quarters. In this case, the tragedies of an inhumane war. One woman initiates the tragedy. Her own daughter serves the sentence.
I wish that I had read The Silence first. I enjoyed The Secret, but I felt like I was missing out on the backstory. Since this book was about the consequences of The Silence, I felt somewhat slighted that I didn't get to live the tragedy in order to judge the outcome.
The book is well-written and full of human truth. My heart hurt for all the players even as I recognized that we may choose our actions but never our consequences. This book is worth reading - but start with The Silence.
Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people who through a character flaw or bad decision find themselves in extraordinary situations. She's a journalist living in Berkshire, England, with her family and springer spaniel. When she's not writing, you'll find her exploring cities, visiting old houses, playing netball, eating cake or restoring her house in Italy, which is nothing like Villa Leonida.
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