The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle
*I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *
If someone asked me to describe this book I would say it is poetic, passionate, and fast paced. It went by way to quickly for my liking, I wanted it to never end. In this historical fiction novel you follow the lives of Freddie, Isabella, and Oskar against the backdrop of in Italy during World War II. What I enjoyed the most is that their personalities are distinct, they do not feel generic at all. Isabella is a strong individual, she puts herself in so much danger to help others as well as project art. I went to art school for a few years and for me personally art is culture. It is a way to show how a group or individual feels, but also shows what they see around them. Art is very important. Freddie is a pilot during the war. His does gruesome work and is faced with danger often. During this time he bonds very well with his crew mates and you experience his point of view of the bombing, which I found interesting to read. Oskar, whose story is not really described in the description so I wont say much, but he is also a very distinct character who has a very important non-passive role in this book. I felt that this novel described a lot of the various roles citizens could have taken during the war.
I could easily go on about this, I honestly REALLY enjoyed this. It has all of the elements of a historical fiction that I look for. It takes place during an active time in history, the characters are involved in the events in different ways, and I genuinely connected with these characters. For me a bonus of this book was that it took place outside of Germany, France, and Britain. For me personally I had not read a WWII historical fiction that took place in Italy so it caught my eye even more than a historical fiction normally would. Over all I would say if you enjoy historical fiction, art, WWII related books, and you enjoy reading about characters that feel like real people you need to pick this up. I give this book an easy 5 stars!
In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the Führer himself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours.
The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence’s heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.
Publisher: Cheyne Walk
Publication Date: (This edition) July 06, 2017
List Price: $13.99
Pages: 490 pages