Published: 14th march 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher
RRP: $29.99 (print)/ $12.99 (ebook)
Inspired by the life of the world’s first woman war correspondent, Australia’s Louise Mack, the most gorgeous love story yet by Pamela Hart.
1917, Italy. Australian journalist Rebecca Quinn is an unconventional woman. At the height of World War I, she has given up the safety of her Sydney home for the bloody battlefields of Europe, following her journalist husband to the frontline as a war correspondent in Italy.
Reporting the horrors of the Italian campaign, Rebecca finds herself thrown together with American-born Italian photographer Alessandro Panucci, and soon discovers another battleground every bit as dangerous and unpredictable: the human heart.
A passionate and poignant love story set on the beautiful Italian coast by the bestselling author of THE SOLDIER’S WIFE and THE WAR BRIDE.
Every now and then there comes a novel that is so utterly irresistible that you instantly devour it in one sitting. A narrative where the characters capture your heart immediately and whisk you a way within a heartbeat of opening the book. One where time passes you by without you knowing it. Where the content challenges the way you think and opens your eyes to a whole new world of understanding. Where you are left feeling blissfully content at the end of the book, and yet the characters and the story remains in the back of your mind for long after the final page. A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart is one of those books.
A Letter From Italy is an eye opening and totally mesmerising read. The book’s I’ve read this year have been so far removed from the realm of this book, that is was not only a refreshing read, but an educational one. For you see, I’m a lover of history, but I don’t recall ever learning about Louise Mack, the first female war correspondent, and the troubles she encountered. Although I know that societies perceptions of women were completely different and constantly being challenged during the wars, I’d never really considered what it would be like to be a female war correspondent. I’m ashamed to even admit that in the back of mind I probably just even assumed they were all male. Needless to say this narrative blew my perceptions of journalists of the time out of the water and opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of what it would have been like to be a woman fighting for her place in a man’s world.
Inspired by the strength and determination of the first female war correspondent, Louise Mack, A Letter From Italy is a testimony to the courage and persistence of women during that period of time. Hart’s heroine Rebecca Quinn is a young Australian journalist who has followed her husband Jack to Italy to report back on the war. When Jack runs off foolhardy into a story leaving Rebecca behind she learns just how hard it is to a be a women alone in a world where women are still believed to be inferior and delicate creatures to be protected at all costs. Butting heads at every turn against societies perceptions of women and the industries restrictions (women were not allowed in press conferences), Rebecca is forced think outside of the box to gain information and to earn her own stripes on the front. These unconventional means lead her to Alessandro Panucci, an American-Italian photographer with a baggage of confused identities. Together the pair develop the most unlikely of alliance as they pursue what is perhaps the story of a lifetime.
Hart has a real talent for writing strong female leads who reflect the nature of their time in such a honest and breathtaking way. Rebecca Quinn is no exception, in fact in many ways I think she is pretty much perfect. Here is a women who believes she is equal to men, who knows she has what it takes to do a ‘man’s’ job and she defies anyone to tell her that she is not worthy. She will not be held down. And yet behind this strong and capable exterior is a women battling with her own perceptions of what she should be and what she wants to be. The depth of character that we glimpse over the course of the novel is astounding, and I loved the way Hart balanced the two sides of her character. Especially the way in which Rebecca remained true to her own morals and convictions despite everything that was thrown her way.
With the focus well and truly on women’s involvement in the war and their fight for equal rights, the subtle hints of romance crafted throughout the story was like a cherry being placed on top of the most divine and intricate of desserts. When the book opened with Jack literally running off the page, I was confused. I couldn’t comprehend why our hero was running away and I read the first few chapters eagerly awaiting his return. And then Alessandro appeared and I became even more confused … until it all made sense. The true partnership between Rebecca and Alessandro was inspiring, and the slow burn of the romance was unexpected and so gratifying because of that. Here is a book with so much heart without even trying.
A Letter From Italy is not only an inspiring and uplifting read, but it’s so eloquently written. From very early on in the narrative it’s evident just how much research Hart has put into the story; so much so that the words simply dissolve on the page as 1917 Italy becomes alive before your very eyes. What’s more the entire book was so eloquently written that I found myself returning to passages time and time again, not because I missed something, but because I wanted to relive those moments again.
A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart celebrates the fight and contribution women made during the wars. It’s a true testimony to the strength of character that our fore-mothers bore so that we could enjoy the lives that we are so accustomed to now. What more it’s simply a mesmerising story that will transport you back to 1917 in heartbeat. It is not a book you can put down easily.
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