I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
About The Book
Inspired by a true story of love and women’s resilience during the rise of fascism and WWII
Set in Fonzaso, Italy between two wars, Under the Light of the Italian Moon tells the story of Nina Argenta, the daughter of the town’s strong-willed midwife. Nina seeks to define her own destiny but when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave. When she falls for childhood friend, Pietro Pante, during his brief visit from America, she has to find a way to be with the man she loves.
Pietro and Nina begin a long-distance relationship that continues as Mussolini forces political tensions to rise and his fascists throw the country into chaos. When Hitler’s Nazis occupy and terrorise their town, Nina struggles to survive and her dreams of a life with Pietro are threatened by an enemy she must face alone…
Under The Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton is a wonderful piece of historical fiction with its roots firmly planted in fact. This is the story of Nina and Pietro, young lovers from Fonzaso in northern Italy. As a young teen Pietro emigrates to America to earn money to send back to his family, returning for a visit only when he has saved enough for a passage home on a ship. It is on one of his visits home that his path crosses with Nina, who is no longer the child he remembers but a woman, and one he falls deeply in love with. They marry, but her mother, a strong woman who as a midwife has delivered over one thousand children in the area, makes her promise not to return to America with him. She has already lost two children to immigration and can’t bear to lose Nina too. So, Pietro returns to America, leaving his bride behind, living frugally to send money home to both her and to his family and hoping that one day they will be reunited.
As much a piece of historical fiction as it is a social commentary on life in Italy, this book examines a pivotal point in history and the wider global events which threatened innocent people. I love books sets during this time period so this really ticked lots of boxes for me. A number of young men left Italy to start life in America and Pietro’s experiences there, miles away from home, working in mines and furiously saving for a future for he and his family is vividly brought to life.
Set in the period between the two world wars, the reader knows that a great threat is looming. As Mussolini takes control, is hailed as being the saviour of Italy and the future begins to peek around the corner, I felt prickles of unease for Nina and Pietro. Their relationship is tested by difficult events, causing distress and heightened emotions which are compounded by the distance between them. As the threat of war simmers on the horizon, the full horror of this time period is revealed to us.
This is an extensively researched book but it didn’t feel like I was being lectured with facts. The information which Jennifer Anton has acquired through her reading, visits to Italy and conversations with relatives is woven into the story creating a richly textured narrative. The town of Fonzasi was brought to life and the hardships and struggles were clear to see. In some ways the early part of the book reminded me of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante in its depiction of life as young child in Italy. The time period is slightly different but the overall themes are similar; poverty, closeness of family, religion, education and the role of women.
It was the women in particular who shine in this novel. They are the heroes; they deliver babies, they put themselves in danger to protect others, they suffer loss, they make ends meet and they love fiercely. Nina and her family leap from the pages in all of their complicated glory, because the characters in this book are not black and white. They make bad decisions and do silly things but they’re incredibly real and I believed in them. This is an emotional read at times and I felt a little choked up when I discovered that Nina and Pietro were relatives of Jennifer Anton. Knowing that the people I had got to know were real people and the events actually happened made this as an especially poignant read.
If historical fiction set during the war is your thing then Under The Light of the Italian Moon could be for you. It is well-written, compelling and emotive and comes recommended from me.
About The Author
Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois now living between London and Lake Como, Italy. An advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.
In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, Jennifer suffered a life-threatening post- partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died. This tumultuous year began a 14 year journey to capture the stories of her female Italian ancestors and develop them into a historical/biographical fiction novel. In 2012, she moved with her family to Milan, Italy. Later, she moved to London where she has held leadership positions with companies including Revlon and Tory Burch.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the Blog Tour.