It is 8 September 1943 and 14-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian and carrying a battered suitcase. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps towards Italy. There they hope to find safety now that Italy has made peace with the Allies. However, almost overnight, Italy will become a battleground for the occupying German forces, the advancing Allies, an increasingly confident Resistance, Jews in hiding and ordinary Italians simply trying to survive. Against this dramatic backdrop and through the experiences of a handful of fascinating, beautifully-drawn characters, Mary Doria Russell s first historical novel recalls the little known but true story of the Italian citizens who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews during the final, desperate phase of the Second World War. The result of five years of meticulous research, this captivating story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times and accomplishing remarkable things is full of drama, warmth, nobility and, for all the darkness, hope.
A paleoanthropologist known for her work on cannibalism and craniofacial biomechanics, Mary Doria Russell is the author of the acclaimed novels The Sparrow and Children of God, which earned her a number of awards and have been translated into thirteen languages. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband and their son. or more information on Mary Doria Russell and her books, see her website at www.marydoriarussell.info