When I was pitched this book, what sold me was the sensational cover! The cover is a show stopper and so eye catching and promises something exotic and romantic. But then I read the description and I couldn’t wait to read it, especially since it was based on a true story.
While it is set during WWII, it’s not set in the traditional countries of France and England, but rather Italy as the title implies. I think Italy often gets overlooked in the WWII historical fiction genre so I was really excited to read about a familiar event in history through a unique pair of eyes.
Plus I was super excited to see that there was a romance in it. I love war time romances. The backdrop of the war adds so much tension and drama to war time romances so I was really looking forward to this one. I picked it up on the first day of spring break and devoured it in a matter of days! There was a lot to love in this one!
A promise keeps them apart until WW2 threatens to destroy their love forever
Fonzaso Italy, between two wars
Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.
When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.
As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…
A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.
Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII. (summary from Goodreads)
I think of the the things that surprised me about this one, was that it wasn’t published by a larger publishing house. The publisher specializes in holocaust memoirs (which I think is wonderful by the way) but it is still a smaller publisher and I was surprised that this one wasn’t published by a larger house as it has a lot to recommend itself to readers, especially fans of historical fiction. This is the author’s debut novel and I was throughly impressed by her writing ability as well as the historical research. I read in her author bio that she like rescuing forgotten women’s stories from history and she is starting with her own family! This book is based on true events within her own family which makes is even more special I think. The personal history in this book really made it shine.
While the history and real events are what made this book for me, the characters were also well developed and enjoyable. Probably because they are based on real people. I adored Nina and felt a genuine connection to her throughout the book, we get to go on this incredible journey with her and watch her strength and resilience shine. I simply love her journey and in this book we get the full scope of her life. It really made the book feel even more epic that it already was. I loved the relationship between Nina and Pietro and watching that grow and change over the years but for me this book was more about mothers and daughters than romance. Yes there was a strong romantic element but the story of mothers and daughters took center stage for me.
I also loved how much authenticity was woven in this one. I really felt like I was living in the region and experiencing everything Nina was. Not just the history but the culture as well. A a Catholic myself, I found familiarity in the pages of this one with all the Catholic references, not to mention the importance of family and all the local festivals. The descriptions of the area are also stunning. So for me the history and the setting/culture really shined in this one and then add in the love story of Nina and Pietro and you have a winning novel for me!
I would love to see this one garner more attention because it was well written, interesting and beautiful. I think readers will certainly enjoy it and feel a connection to Nina especially! If you love historical fiction that feels more epic in nature, then you will surely love this book as much as I did. It was a wonderful read and I am so happy I didn’t pass on it!
Book Info and Summary
Format396 pages, Paperback
PublishedMarch 8, 2021 by Amsterdam Publishers
ISBN9789493231009 (ISBN10: 9493231003)LanguageEnglish
Free review copy provided by author, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: historical fiction, war romance