Italy, 1937. In a tiny village in rural Lombardy, Graziella Ponti is born into a loving family.
Though they are not rich and life is full of challenges, they are content and safe, surrounded by the tightly-knit community of Pieve Santa Clara.
But when the shadow of World War Two falls across the village with the arrival of Nazi soldiers, nothing in young Graziella’s life will ever be the same again.
Paradiso is Graziella’s story. It charts her loves, losses and triumphs as she grows up in post-war Italy, a country in transformation, freed from the shackles of dictatorship yet still gripped by the restraints of the Catholic church.
Paradiso is inspired by true stories told to Francesca Scanacapra by her Italian family and set in locations where she spent much of her childhood. It is a deeply affecting novel which sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Italy’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live in extraordinary times.
This stunning historical read is perfect for fans of Dinah Jeffries, Rhys Bowen, Victoria Hislop, Angela Petch and Heather Morris.
Francesca Scanacapra was born in Italy to an English mother and Italian father, and her childhood was spent living between England and Italy. Her adult life has been somewhat nomadic and she has pursued an eclectic mixture of career paths, including working as a technical translator between Italian, English, Spanish and French, a gym owner in Spain, an estate agent in France, a property developer in France and Senegal, and a teacher. Francesca lives in Dorset and currently works as a builder with her husband. She has two children.
An enthralling story representing a side not often seen in WWII historical fiction novels: that of a child in Italy, evacuated to a convent and later returned to her family in a village much changed from the place she left.
Sworn to keep a secret about the death of a couple of German officers, Graziella protects her family … but at what cost? Life in post-war Lombardy has its ups and downs, and we see both sides through the young girl’s eyes as she grows up and into adulthood. For me, the story had a similar vibe to “Anne of Avonlea” (Green Gables) as the reader is drawn into life there, with all the family members and neighbours having their part to play.
I found it interesting how the mothers in the story changed after losing their husbands, how they stood up to be counted in their own very subtle way. Zia Mina’s story would make a great spin-off with the Marcesini family. I would gladly read more about Graziella and her family. Had she found her true love in Gianfrancesco? Would she go on to be a teacher?
A true family drama, both emotionally engaging and historically compelling.
If there is to be a sequel, then count me in. More, please 🙂
Update: as I post my review on Amazon, I spy book 2 – Return to Paradiso!
Wishes do come true! 😉
For more news and reviews,