During a period of just six months, in 1943 in Italy, you have the opportunity to observe a handful of characters whose small acts of bravery demonstrate the power love has to outweigh the terrors of war. More than that, Richman shows how we humans are able to nurture love, even when the threat of death is always present.
The drama begins on page one with a terrified girl, holding forged identification papers, facing a Nazi officer. Suddenly, a complete stranger appears out of the crowd, claims the girl as a cousin, and thereby rescues her from further scrutiny.
As each story unfolds, you also get to meet an interesting collection of secondary characters who together bring to life different aspects of war and its consequences. Like a music teacher who suffers brutal payback after a minor anti-Nazi infraction, a bookseller secretly using a room in his store to support the Resistance, and a young woman fighter determined to treat injuries, even with no medical training.
As I became deeply emotionally involved with Richman’s characters, and grew to care for them, the book became increasingly suspenseful. And I wasn’t able to put it down until I found out what happened to each one.