This book is not just entertaining, interesting, well-written and professionally crafted, it is also educational and enlightening, with regards to a period of European history which is perhaps often overlooked. Set in 1928, in the aftermath of the first world war, Istria has fallen under the ownership of a now Fascist-run Italy, the land wielded and occupied with ruthless complicity by Mussolini. The formerly Croatian citizens now find themselves being naturalized by Italy’s ethnic cleansing of the area, assimilated into Italian identity, and even having their names changed to sound more Italian – or, as many Italians suggest, “corrected” to their original Latin form. Like most manipulated Italians, many Istrians welcome this change, as both sides fall prey to the Fascist propaganda machine. For some, however, the occupation is too imposing an offence to accept, and a new cause is born.
When naturalized young man Giovanni finds himself abducted - quite accidentally - by a group of Croatian separatists, a reviled and unscrupulous Fascist mayor of the town of Cittanova spots an opportunity to capitalize financially on the situation. A fugitive himself, in hiding from a determined terrorist, the mayor gradually starts to gradually realize his own role in the bigger tale of the arrival of these separatists.
Ultimately, this is a long and wordy, yet simple story of revenge, set against the backdrop of a notable moment in history. For the most part, it is an incredibly insightful, well-researched snapshot, laden with historical detail. The narrative is slow and drawn out, much of it imparted through character dialogue, and ultimately, aside from the interestingly developing backstory, it is difficult to remember that the whole event only actually takes place over around 24 hours – reading this book feels almost like participating in real time.
The real star of this book is the author herself. Walker is intelligent, endearing and well-learned
in her subject matter. With her own
background and family history, she is clearly passionate about the Istria region
and its history, and it is an enjoyable experience to be informed on it by
her. She is also an excellent writer,
vivid and descriptive, yet human and engaging.
Her writing has qualities of relatability, yet also the authority which comes
from subject knowledge. You can feel the
history permeating from the pages, and it takes no effort for the reader to become
immersed in its culture and language.
This is not a quick, flippant read; it is a serious book by a proper
professional author, and it is highly recommended for those who want to learn a
little something when they read, whilst wrapping it all up in the package of a
nice, simple story of regret and revenge.
A good book by an author worthy of respect and success.
BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON >
In : Book Reviews
Tags: margaret-walker italy fascist history fiction drama