Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle

The Villa Triste was a fabulous piece of fiction that I'm glad I came across. I enjoyed the book immensely and was gripped the entire time.

The story opens in 1943 Florence. Two sisters: Caterina and Isabella. Their lives – along with all of Italy – are about to be turned upside down. As Italy backs out of the war and severs its alliance with Germany, most of the country immediately becomes occupied by the Nazis. Isabella and their brother Enrico join The Resistance, and soon Isabella has no choice but to help.

After this part, the only way that we find out what has happened to Caterina, Isabella, and their family and comrades is through Caterina's diary, which is found among the possessions of a old man in present day Florence.

An old man is found murdered, and senior policeman Pallioti is summoned by the mayor to take the case. This isn't just any old man – he was one of the Partisans during the war, a hero. Pallioti swipes Caterina's diary from evidence and finds himself immersed in the brave stories of the Partisans and tries to find a connection between the dead man and the names in the diary.

The story just ran so smoothly. As we switched between present day and the diary entries, little bits were uncovered that helped solve mysteries from the past and the mystery of the present. I was just astonished to learn about the members of the Partisans, what they did, how much they risked their lives. Most of them probably didn't know what they were doing, but they knew that had to do something, had to do the right thing.

And it made me sad about the lost futures, those who ended up being executed by the Nazis. And then there were the moments that made me angry, reading about the traitors. I was just feeling all kinds of emotions while reading this. And as the story wore on and bit by bit was uncovered, I thought I was starting to get a clear view of what happened, and by the end, I only got a few things right. Some things I was not even close about.

I got so attached to the characters and what happened to them, hoping that they ended up safe. Some of them did, but some of them didn't. This was the reality. 200,000 Italians were involved in the resistance movement and over 47,000 were killed. Other stats:
  • Approximately 21,200 Italian partisans wounded or disabled 
  • Approximately 15,000 Italian civilians killed in retaliations 
  • Approximately 40,000 former Italian soldiers died in concentration camps 
And sadly, before reading this book, I knew none of this. I highly suggest reading this book, and when you're done, doing a bit a research about the period of time and the folks who lived and died for what they believed in.


Anne said...

I love reading about WWII, this one sounds really interesting. I am adding to my TBR list!