To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II.
It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met.
Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love.
But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge.
As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . .
No. of pages:- 377 pages
Date published:- January 5th 2021
Publisher:- William and Morrow
Genre:- Historical Fiction
First of all, I know I have been posting the blog after a long time but I am back again!
Now, to the book review, if the book is based on
- World War II
Then the book is for me. Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson falls into that category and after getting rejected in the Netgalley, I got an opportunity to listen to the audiobook!
The story though is fictional with fictional characters are based on true horrific events that happened during the WWII. The story takes place in Italy, when Italy is an ally to Germany and is under German rule. Antonina is a Jewish woman, living in Venice and is studying to be a nurse and her father is a well reputed doctor. Antonina takes care of her mother. So when Italy starts imposing racial laws, her father, through the connection of Father Bernard who was cured by Antonina’s father helps Antonina to escape by posing as a bride to another man, named Nico Gerardi. Nico meanwhile was studying to be a priest and does not agree with the fascist rule. Antonina changes her name to Nina and together with Nico move to a remote farming village to live with Nico’s family. Meanwhile, a local Nazi who does not get along with Nico becomes suspicious about Nina.
Let’s talk about the plot first. The plot, just like any Holocaust books were interesting and the author did a good job, doing well research into Italy and its culture as well as the farming life. The narrator also did a good job with the narration as well. I like how Nina who is actually a city girl initially struggled to adjust to the farming life and soon became a favorite among Nico’s family. The first part of the book mainly talks about how Nina slowly adjust to the farming life and without her parents with her and Nico eventually developing into a romantic relationship. The second part of the book is where the story gets intense–the rounding of Partisans, Nina getting caught and of course the horrific conditions in labor camps and of course the Nazi treatment towards the Jews. Despite the fact that the story is fictional, the events are real and as a reader, I was drawn into that era with Nina and Nico and imagined myself in that place with the character. The story is mainly told from Nina’s perspectives using as a third person.
As for characters, except for the Nazis, nearly all the characters in the book are likable–I liked how the romantic relationship developed between Nina and Nico, how Nina grew a close bond towards Rosa, Nico’s sister and the other members of the family, painting us a vivid picture of a happy farming family. I also like the description of the life in a farming community, which seemed too real.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book–an emotional, heart wrenching story and a story that you wouldn’t want to put down–worth five stars!
An academic by background, a former editor by profession, and a lifelong history geek, I am lucky enough to now call myself a full-time writer. I’m the author of three novels set during and after the First World War: Somewhere in France, After the War is Over, and Moonlight Over Paris, and a contributor to the forthcoming anthology Fall of Poppies…Stories of Love and the Great War.
I first learned about the Great War from my father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. I studied French literature and modern history as an undergraduate at King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, then attended Saint Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, where I obtained my doctorate in British economic and social history. While at Oxford I was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow.
For a number of years I worked as an editor but am now fortunate enough to consider myself a full-time writer. I am represented by Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Agency.
I live in Toronto, Canada, with my husband and young children, and share my home office with Ellie the sheepdog and Sam the cat.