New York, 1979.
It is Thanksgiving and Evelina has her close family and beloved friends gathered around, her heart weighted with gratitude for what she has and regret for what she has given up. She has lived in America for over thirty years, but she is still Italian in her soul.
Northern Italy, 1934.
Evelina leads a sheltered life with her parents and siblings in a villa of fading grandeur. When her elder sister Benedetta marries a banker, to suit her father’s wishes rather than her own, Evelina swears that she will never marry out of duty. She knows nothing of romantic love, but when she meets Ezra, son of the local dressmaker, her heart recognises it like an old friend.
Evelina wants these carefree days to last forever. She wants to bask in sunshine, beauty and love and pay no heed to the grey clouds gathering on the horizon. But nothing lasts forever. The shadows of war are darkening over Europe and precious lives are under threat…
Thank you to the fabulous Sara-Jade Virtue of Books and The City, Simon and Schuster UK for a review copy of the latest book by Santa Montefiore. I’ve enjoyed reading books by Santa Montefiore before and you can find my last review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2021/04/15/here-and-now-by-santa-montefiore-2/
Regular readers of my reviews will know that I enjoy reading historical fiction novels set in the 20th Century, and this one stretches from the thirties to the eighties as Evelina thinks back to her days as a young woman in Italy whilst celebrating Thanksgiving with her own children in the United States.
This is a beautifully written and emotional book. Evelina experiences the joy of growing up and falling in love but also the grief of losing loved ones, and as the title suggests, finds herself leaving Italy to join family already living in the United States.
I enjoyed this book, and was quickly lost in the story, travelling back in time in Italy and the United States. This book is an important reminder about how the Jewish people were treated during the Second World War, made worse when the Germans invaded Italy.
The book is full of historical detail, and it is amazing to think how life changed so quickly during Evelina’s lifetime. This was an emotional roller coaster of a book and I was stunned to read in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, that an important part of the story, was based on a real life story, albeit in a different location.
Happy to recommend this book to readers of my book review – this is one of my five star reads of 2022 – a perfect mix of characters, emotion and history.