A sweeping story of love, betrayal and war….
[ About the Book ]
Love. War. Family. Betrayal.
Italy, 1937. Alessandra Durante is grieving the loss of her husband when she discovers she has inherited her ancestral family seat, Villa Durante, deep in the Tuscan Hills. Longing for a new start, she moves from her home in London to Italy with her daughter Diana and sets about rebuilding her life.
Under the threat of war, Alessandra’s house becomes first a home and then a shelter to all those who need it. Then Davide, a young man who is hiding the truth about who he is, arrives, and Diana starts to find her heart going where her head knows it must not.
Back home in Britain as war breaks out, Alessandra’s son Robert, signs up to be a pilot, determined to play his part in freeing Italy from the grip of Fascism. His bravery marks him out as an asset to the Allies, and soon he is being sent deep undercover and further into danger than ever before.
As war rages, the Durante family will love and lose, but will they survive the war…?
[ My Review ]
An Italian Affair is a novel by Caroline Montague and has just been released with Orion Books. It is a sweeping family saga recounting the story of the Marston/Durante family during the Second World War. With references to actual events, including the Battle of Britain and the shocking massacre that took place in Civitella, a small village in the mountains of Tuscany, Caroline Montague has written a book that will transport you back to those distressing years of a wartime Europe.
Alessandra had everything she could have wished for, a wonderful husband and two beautiful children, but this was all about to change. One early morning, Alessandra’s world is ripped apart when her husband is involved in a tragic and fatal accident outside their London home. Struggling to grasp the enormity of her loss, and unable to cope with the grief, Alessandra is suddenly faced with a very unexpected new challenge. Her grandmother has passed away and has willed her the ancestral home in the Tuscan hills, but with conditions. With Europe on the cusp of war, Alessandra is all too aware of the risks she might be facing if she returns to Italy, but the alternative is too lonely a prospect. So leaving her son Robert in boarding school, she packs up their London home and takes her daughter Diana with her on this unknown yet exciting adventure. Alessandra had never visited her grandmother in Italy so her expectations are based on an old picture but when she arrives she is blown away by the sheer beauty of the Tuscan landscape.
‘Below her, fields, meadows and forests were laid out in a rich tapestry of colour and shapes, and in the distance, a village clung to the hillside with a church at its centre. A lump formed in her throat. This was more than just a landscape, much more; not only was it achingly beautiful, it was also her future and her mother’s past – a past she had left behind.’
As the war machine rages forth, Alessandra brings the Villa Durante back to it’s former glory with the help of the local villagers, who are only too happy to see life return to the villa. As Mussolini’s army continues it’s campaign, in league with the Nazi regime, the hills of Tuscany soon become a hotbed for the resistance and a hiding place for the Jewish community to escape the atrocities facing them.
Alessandra’s son, Robert, remains in London and joins up with the RAF, fighting his own battle. But as time passes, Robert’s life becomes a nightmare, as his friends are victims of the fight and he witnesses the realities of death in all it’s ghoulish glory. Robert is very anti the Fascist regime that is building in strength in Italy and he becomes determined to do his bit to prevent the spread of this insidious governing of his ancestral home.
An Italian Affair takes the reader on a journey of passion and fear, a journey of love and bravery, as ordinary people stand up and do extraordinary things. The amount of research into this period by Caroline Montague is very evident, as the full scale of the horrors and devastation of that time are so richly portrayed. At times I did find the dialogue a little too formal but this was a minor quibble and it certainly did not impact my overall reading experience.
There is a very canny twist in this tale, a rather unexpected edge, which adds a very exciting plot swerve to the overall story. I became very engrossed in Robert’s story, with the portrayal of the war very vivid and quite emotive. Alessandra and her daughter Diana, were fascinating characters to read about. They arrive in Tuscany, unsure of what lies ahead, yet over the years they both grow and develop into two strong, brave and very formidable women.
An Italian Affair is a sumptuous tale combining fact with fiction. It is a wonderful debut from Caroline Montague and one I was only too happy to escape into for a few hours. Bursting with imagery of the glorious Tuscan hills and the frightening ravages of war, An Italian Affair is a very engaging tale, perfect for all with a passion for Italy and love of historical fiction.
[ Bio ]
Caroline won her first National Poetry competition at 10 years old and from that moment dreamed of being a writer. Her life, however, took a different turn. At 18 she began a law degree but left after a year to marry a country solicitor. When juggling motherhood with modelling assignments became too much, she founded an Interior Design Company working on many projects in the UK and abroad.
Her second marriage to the widowed Conroy Harrowby brought four stepchildren into her life, giving her a wider audience for her imaginative bedtime stories. As a family they all live at the Harrowby ancestral home, Burnt Norton, which famously inspired T S Eliot to write the first of his “Four Quartets”. At last Caroline has the time to fulfil her dream of becoming a full time author.
Twitter ~ @CMontagueAuthor
Website ~ http://www.carolinemontague.co.uk/