Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Early One Morning - Virginia Baily
I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the back cover, so I took a chance. Then I put it on a shelf where it stayed for three years until recently when again, l liked the look of it and took it down. Pleased to say for me this was worth buying!
This is a dual time line story, but there are also differing zones between the timelines, so I guess I's describe it as a triple time line at least. The early part of those time lines takes place in Rome, in 1943, when the Nazi Party is clearing the Jewish Getto, and loading ill-prepared Jews onto carts, to take them to the railway station for loading onto trucks taking them, ultimately, to their deaths. A Roman woman, Chiara, catches the eye of a Jewess, and holds it - why? She will never know, but what happens next will change her entire life. The Jewess slowly prises the fingers of her older son away from her own hand and pushes him away. At that moment Chiara finds herself shouting "My son! you have taken my son!" and suddenly the boy is off the cart and she has him.
What has she done? She's 25, unmarried, with a mentally impaired sister, parents dead and only one grandparent left - and she has taken on the care of a little Jewish boy.
This story is really about Chiara. The boy is always there between the pages, but is not a major character. Others come and go, some stay, but Chiara is on every page, and as her life goes on, we find out more about the others mentioned.
Besides the story we are told, I found that this book is also about a love affair - a love affair with the City of Rome. Little cobbled streets, apartments up stairways, churches, galleries - so much is mentioned that you could take the book on holiday and it would see you round the city as well as entertaining you.
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