A historical novel written by Mary Doria Russell, set in Italy between the years of 1943 and 1945, when Jews were struggling to escape the reach of Nazi Germany by traveling over the Alps into Italy. Italian citizens, intimidated by the occupying Nazi army, act kindly towards the Jews and attempt to hide them from the Nazis. This resulted in more than 43,000 Jews being saved. However, many others still were captured and killed.
Into this setting, the author focuses on several characters, presenting their experiences: Jewish refugees, Italian freedom fighters, priests, rabbis, Nazi officers, and others. We see the hardships of war, the joys of simple everyday life, the horrors endured by prisoners and soldiers. Survival or death is dependent on the luck of the draw.
Well-drawn characters, descriptive language and in-depth research of the culture and history make this an enjoyable albeit poignant book to read.