From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon – Book Review

From Sand and Ash

5/5 stars

Goodreads Description:

As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.

But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

My Review:

I am always drawn to novels set in WWII Europe.  I love historical novels and this is one time period that holds a particular interest for me since I had family who were sent to Auschwitz.  Some were killed and a handful lived to see their liberation.  My cousins are Italian Jews so this novel peaked my interest.

The setting is Italy, 1929.  Eva Roselli is a young Italian Jew whose mother died when she was a baby and is living with her father, Camillo.  He owns a glass factory.  They live with Fabia and Santino, an older Italian couple who help take care of Eva and her father’s home.  Their son married and American girl and moved to America.  When she dies he sends their American son Angelo to live with Fabia & Santino.  That is how Eva and Angelo meet and their lifelong friendship/romance begins.

We follow Eva and Angelo through the war years, as their friendship faces struggles posed by the Nazis, antisemitism, and Angelo ‘s dedication to becoming a priest.

Writing about a time period that you did not experience but only know through dedicated research has always impressed me.  Author Amy Harmon does a wonderful job of portraying this nightmarish world as seen through the eyes of Angelo and Eva.

My family was turned into the Nazis by a neighbor.  I always thought it was just pure prejudice that motivated this person, but reading in the book about how these informants were paid a fee, it added some new knowledge to my prior ignorance of how it actually happened.

This is a worthy book for anyone interested in WWII novels, historical fiction or just plain human will to survive.

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