Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
Pino Lella is an ordinary teenage Milanese boy trying to get a date with a pretty woman. All of his recent attempts have failed but he’s sure this one woman he asked will meet him at the cinema that night. Instead he gets to watch Fred Astaire dance across the screen with his younger brother until the bombs start to drop and the war dramatically and suddenly comes to Milan. His parents want to do everything they can to make sure their sons survive the war but their sons have different ideas.
Lately I’ve been avoiding novels set during World War II because in the past few years I have read so many. But when your book club picks a book you have to read it! I had never read anything about the war that took place in and around Milan so it was very interesting. I also appreciated that it was all based on the recollections of a real person. It made some of the coincidences that in pure fiction a reader would tend to think was “too much” palatable because it was based on truth.
I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel. Reading about Pino’s time in the Alps and learning the mountain passes as he trains to, and then successfully leads, Jews across the Alps into Austria. My fellow book club members were more captivated by his time in Milan serving as the driver for a high ranking Nazi officer all the while acting as a spy feeding information to the resistance. This book truly has everything: adventure, romance, spies, sadness and joy. The audiobook has all the various accents bringing the listener deeper into the story.