The Garden of Letters – by Alyson Richman – independent book review – Historical Fiction (World War II)

This is a beautiful story, slowly revealed with each page turn – and richly enhanced by Allison Richman’s exceptional use with language. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.gardenofletters
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.
This is how we first meet Elodie, a brilliant cellist, and Alfredo, a young doctor whose deep-rooted compassion leads him to treat patients from both sides of the conflict. Both of these two main characters have powerful back stories that brought them to this chance encounter. And it’s a real treat to move back and forth in time, slowly uncovering their stories.
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.
Alyson Richman

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.

This is a great read! And leaves you feeling good about people. Be sure NOT to skip the author’s afterword, where she reveals which of the characters are based on actual historical figures.
More about one of my favorite authors, Alyson Richman.
You may also be interested in my reviews of a few of her other novels: