It’s hard to lose a parent. It is ten times harder to lose that parent during war, when death and destruction are the new normal.
Anita Abriel‘s new novel, A Girl During the War: A Novel, takes place in Italy during World War II. Marina Tozzi is a young lady living in Rome with her widowed father in 1943. After he is killed for sheltering a Jewish artist, she escapes to a villa in Florence owned by a family friend. The city has become known for a homegrown rebellion against its German occupiers. Trained in art history, Marina uses her skills to help the partisans save her country and protect/hide artistic works from being taken to Germany. She also falls for Carlos, who lives next door to her.
When he disappears, she believes that their future life together was just a dream. Believing him to be dead, Marina moves halfway around the world once peace has been declared. Then she runs into Carlos and everything she knew turns upside down once more.
I loved this book. Abriel, as she did with her previous novels, takes both the readers and the characters on a heart-pounding journey. I was immediately drawn into this world and taken by the hand into a story of a young woman who comes of age in a time that would test the toughest of souls. In a sense, her survival and her fight are ours as well. It is a reminder that we can fight against fascism and hate. We just need to heart, the brains, and the balls to do so.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
A Girl During the War: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.
Challenging times force us to make a choice. We can either sit back and do nothing. Or we can fight against injustice.
Anita Abriel’s new book, Lana’s War, was published back in January. In Paris in 1943, Lana Antanova is happy, despite the suffering imposed on the city by the German invaders. Married and newly pregnant, she hurries to tell her husband the news of their upcoming bundle of joy. Her joy is quickly snuffed out when she is made a widow by a German officer. Her grief is compounded by a miscarriage.
A few months later, Lana joins the resistance. The daughter of a Russian noblewoman, she is the perfect person to penetrate the ranks of German officers who are making themselves comfortable on the French coast. Among them is the man who killed her husband. She is paired up with Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist who is also in the resistance. Pretending to be his mistress, they work together to save as many Jewish lives as possible. When Lana becomes emotionally attached to a young Jewish girl, she is determined to protect not just her own life, but also those lives of the people around her.
This book is fantastic. The narrative crackled with tension. It read almost like a spy thriller instead of a historical novel. I love that Lana is not simply the damsel in distress. She is a smart cookie and a badass who does what is right, in spite of the danger.
Sometimes, surviving The Holocaust required a split-second decision in which one did not know the outcome of that decision.
The Light after the War: A Novel, was published last month. Best friends Vera and Edith survived by jumping from a cattle car headed toward Auschwitz. They spent the rest of the war hiding in a farm. Once peace is declared, both Vera and Edith know that their futures are not in Eastern Europe. They start their new lives in Naples, where Vera gets a job working for an American army officer.
Life becomes complicated when Vera falls for her employer and he for her. They are set to begin a new life as husband and wife, but then the officer disappears. So begins the multiple twists and turns that will take these women across the globe several times and expand their worlds in ways that neither had previously considered.
At the core of this book is a friendship that remains strong under circumstances that would break most friendships. As Vera and Ellen fall in love, go into the work world and expand their horizons, they continue to rely on each other. That is what makes this book great and kept me hanging on to the last page.