book reviews

Book Review: A Letter From Italy


A Letter From Italy
: Pamela Hart
Published: 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
My Rating: 5/5

Pamela Hart has done it again with a captivating story within the historical fiction genre. A Letter From Italy will grab you from the first page and take you on a journey through life in a small Italian seaside villiage in 1917 at the height of the Great War.

Inspired by the world’s first woman war correspondent, Australia’s Louise Mack, Pamela has crafted a story that is both rich in history and emotion. A story which dramatically and accurately tells what life was like for a strong-willed woman in those times. It not only touches on the big issues of feminism, patriarchal society, and history, but puts them front and centre. It made me aware of how far we have come as a society with respect to the treatment of women. But, it also affirmed the fact we haven’t come far enough; there is still a long, long way to go. And it is women like the fictional protagonist, Rebecca Quinn and real life pioneers such as Louise Mack, that should continue to inspire women and men of today.

A Letter From Italy is superbly written. Rebecca is the perfect protagonist – she is strong, yet vulnerable, intelligent yet stubborn, and she has the determination and will that one can only admire. She is balanced in her wisdom and flaws, just as we all are. From the first introduction you will be instantly connected to Rebecca and her plight.

The ensemble cast is full of wonderfully developed characters. There is the handsome American-born Italian photographer Alessandro, whose modern thinking and respectful values reflect only a few of his time. He is caring, loyal, and is torn between family and heart – something again easy to relate to. And then there is the one and only, Nonna Rosa. A character so real that I can just imagine her working away in the kitchen chopping garlic and scoring chestnuts. Her her stern exterior on display, yet a glint of something more in her eye. Oh, Nonna Rosa, – what a character!

Pamela has enriched this story with such detail that I can’t imagine how painstakingly intense and involved her research must have been. You can tell Pamela has a passion for the stories behind these times as it’s evident in every worthy word on the page.

After reading (and loving) both of Pamela’s earlier historical fiction books – The Solider’s Wife, and The War Bride, I was sure she would equal her efforts. But, she has indeed surpassed all expectations with such brilliant writing that is full of emotion, perfectly paced, and with characters whom I fell for instantly. So much so, I finished the last half of the book in a three hour marathon as I couldn’t put it down!

In fact, I wish I had have taken more time to savour the beautiful phrasing, capture the remarkable setting and backdrop, and experience every intimate emotion. But that’s exactly how a good book should leave you feeling, isn’t it?

A Letter From Italy is now available at all good book stores or you can purchase online at Booktopia here.