Putnam. Mar. 2021. 480p. ISBN 9780525539766. $28. F
Scottoline (“Rosato & Associates” series) veers from her usual thrillers and humorous fare with her first historical fiction, which takes place in Rome during Mussolini’s rule. It centers on three childhood friends. Elisabetta is a beautiful and sweet aspiring writer who has won the hearts of her two best friends: showy, confident Marco and brilliant Jewish mathematician Sandro. Some of the protagonists support—or even, like Marco, work for—the fascist regime; others do not. As political tensions rise, the Jews of Rome feel a dark cloud approaching. Scottoline pulls readers into the lives of the characters and their families as war decimates their beloved city. Based on true events, this is an addictive read. Scottoline’s passions, for Italy and the story, shine in her clear, descriptive sentences, which place you right there, watching history unfold. The book’s themes coincide with political and social events in the news today.
VERDICT Make a plate of fettuccine, pour a glass of red wine, and settle in with this captivating tale. You will cry tears of sadness and joy. Scottoline’s Italian heritage combined with all her diligent research will keep this story in readers’ hearts.
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