Thursday, April 20, 2023

Blog Tour: The Girl Who Escaped by Angela Petch

In 1938 a group of four friends take a photo of themselves together and promise to meet up again in 50 years time. In 1988, some of the friends turn up, having not seen each other for years. But it isn't necessarily a joyful reunion. After all, a lot happen during WWII, and it isn't easy to forget, or forgive, even after all this time.

The central character in the story is Devora, an Italian born Jew of German descent who has grown up in Italy. Her friends are Enrico, son of local nobility and the boy that she thinks she loves, Sabrina, who also loves Enrico and Luigi, all round good guy. 

Prior to the introduction of racial laws, Devora was a medical student, studying hard to become a doctor. Now, she helps out where she can, but her life is turned upside down when further racial laws are introduced and her parents are interred as foreign Jews. She is left to care for her two younger brothers, who are exempt from the laws, for now. Her life is challenging, but she still looks forward to her occasional meeting with the unworthy Enrico. Well, she doesn't see him as unworthy, but I certainly did.

When Enrico is sent off to fight, he meets a young woman and soon makes it his mission to protect her at all costs, no matter that he must keep her very existence a secret. The thing with Enrico is that he is a somewhat slippery character, and he is always looking out for Enrico first and foremost.

As the war progresses, Devora is forced to change her appearance and identity on multiple occasions in order to have any chance of survival. Whenever she needs assistance it is Luigi who is there for her, and yet, she cannot see why this is the case. 

This is not a light and fluffy WWII novel, and there is no dual timeline to help break up the rising intensity as the war progresses throughout the book. Devora has to make difficult choices, and suffer great losses along the way. And yet, she also develops friendships that are deep and meaningful and is able to use her skills to help others too, becoming involved with the resistenza.

The question is, will Devora survive,  and even if she does, will she ever be reunited with her family?

I read Angela Petch's previous book and it inspired me to visit Puglia on my recent trip to Italy. Whilst I enjoyed this book, it was a darker story.  Ultimately it was a satisfying read, and I still intend to read her earlier books! Oh, and look forward to the next one!

I am sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the review copy.

Rating 3.5/5

About the Book

The Girl Who Escaped: Utterly heartbreaking and emotional WW2 historical fiction by Angela Petch

Italy, 1940. The girl sobs and rages as her father tells her the terrible news. “Italy is entering the war alongside Germany. Jews are to be arrested and sent to camps. We have to be ready.”

As fascists march across the cobbled piazzas and past the towered buildings of her beloved home city, twenty-year-old Devora’s worst fears come true. Along with her Jewish parents and twin little brothers they are torn away from everything they love and sent to an internment camp huddled in the mountains. Her father promises this war will not last long…

When they are offered a miraculous chance of escape by her childhood friend Luigi, who risks everything to smuggle vital information into the camp, the family clambers under barbed wire and races for the border. But Devora is forced to make a devastating choice between saving a stranger’s life and joining her parents. As shots fire in the moonless night, the family is separated.

Haunted by the question of whether they are dead or alive, all Devora can do for their future is throw herself into helping Luigi in the Italian resistenza in the fight for liberty. But posing as a maid for a German commander to gather secret intelligence, Devora is sure she sees her friend one night, in a Nazi uniform…

Is Devora in more danger than ever? And will her family ever be reunited – or will the war tear them apart?

An absolutely devastating but ultimately uplifting historical novel about how love and hope can get us through the darkest times. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Rhys Bowen and Soraya M. Lane.

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About the author

I’m an award winning writer of fiction – and the occasional poem.

Every summer I move to Tuscany for six months where my husband and I own a renovated watermill which we let out. When not exploring our unspoilt corner of the Apennines, I disappear to my writing desk at the top of our converted stable.

In my Italian handbag or hiking rucksack I always make sure to store notebook and pen to jot down ideas.

The winter months are spent in Sussex where most of our family live. When I’m not helping out with grandchildren, I catch up with writer friends.

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1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for reviewing my new book. Wow, I'm pleased that I encouraged you to visit Puglia after reading The Postcard from Italy. Very best wishes on further travels.