Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In Love and War by Alex Preston

In Love and War weaves fact and fiction to create a sweeping portrait of a city at war. The novel is told through the eyes, letters and journals of Esmond Lowndes, who comes to Italy a lost and lonely young man in the shadow of his politician father. Through his friendships with a striking cast of contemporary characters, from the poet Ezra Pound to Alice Keppel, a former royal mistress, Esmond begins to leave his early disappointments behind him. On the cobbles of Florence's many-storied streets, he deepens his appreciation of art and literature, and falls in love.
With the coming of war, Esmond finds himself stranded in a city of enemies, hunted by the malevolent Mario Carità, head of the Fascist secret police. He retreats into the hills above Florence, taking with him a painting that has come to assert a profound hold over him. When the Nazis arrive, Esmond is drawn into Giustizia e Libertà, the Resistance movement, and is soon helping to spirit refugees to safety, to hide the city's Jews. With his lover, Ada, at his side, he is at the centre of assassination plots, shoot-outs and car chases, culminating in a final mission of extraordinary daring.
In Love and War is a novel that will take you deep into the secret heart of history, meticulously researched and full of period detail. It is a novel of art and letters, of bawdy raconteurs and dashing spies. With Esmond Lowndes you will see the beauty of Florence as never before, and feel the horror of war as it sweeps over the city's terracotta rooftops. Inspired by a host of real-life stories, In Love and War is both epic and intimate, harrowing and heartwarming.

In Love and War is a tale that is set in Florence during the years prior and during World War II. The author writes in such a way that it evoked the sights, smells, and sentiment of the time of a city rich with culture and untarnished by modernity. 

The novel is multi-layered with several intriguing subplots and a bevy of colorful characters. Through their eyes, and their interaction through letters, radio programs, and telegrams, the tale unfolds with poignancy. The author was able to evoke many emotions where the brutal realities of war was skillfully intermixed with themes of love, endurance, and family. It is not an easy read because of its rich complexities, but one that should be taken seriously and read at leisure to learn and experience Italy and how its people suffered and survived World War II. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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