Author: Kate Furnivall
Kate Furnivall has written a number of books set in exotic locations, and I had read none of them. The Liberation is my first of her works and I will admit that the page count was enough to have me hesitate before picking it up, and then it was selected as a book club title so the hesitation had to end.
Italy in 1945 is a place of devastation, British and American troops are still in place to help restore order and the locals are fighting to survive. The only money is in the pockets of the troops, and the paid off local law enforcement. The streets are in ruins and many people are selling off what they can just to eat.
Catarina Lombardi is a young woman with determination and a will to survive; she is out one day selling handcrafted wooden boxes when she crosses paths with a number or different people that will completely change the direction of her future, and the way she thinks about her past.
The Lombardis live in the small town of Sorrento where they are renowned master craftsmen working with wood. Catarina inherited her love of woodworking from both her father and grandfather, and her skills are certainly up there with theirs. It was interesting that when Catarina took boxes out to sell she passed them off as work by her father or her brother, even though she had made them herself, because she wouldn’t be able to get the same prices for her work.
The Liberation is evocative, it is dark, it is suspenseful and it certainly kept me reading long after I should have been sleeping – and when I had two kids (that aren’t mine) hounding me to play with them instead of reading. The page count was high but I was so entranced that I still got through it in 3 days.
Action is non-stop and you are never quite sure what’s going to happen next, or who the bad guys really are. The police make a living from pay-offs, the mafia are a force to be reckoned with and their territory is even avoided by the police, the troops are viewed with suspicion if not open hostility and they are only trying to help get Italy back on its feet but having to do it with little support from the locals.
Italy has such a long history and is home to countless priceless artifacts from paintings and sculptures to religious icons and antique furniture, many of which have disappeared during the war and in its aftermath. A taskforce has been put together to track down missing relics and bring them back to the Italian people, but the casualties mount up and there are more questions than answers.
Catarina is forced into a position where she is left questioning everything, and in danger at every turn; not sure who to trust or how to keep her family safe. Instead of spending days in her workshop creating items to sell she is facing danger from all directions in her quest to clear her father’s name.
The intrigue and deceit of this story is woven so seamlessly that it really is difficult to untangle and work out where the biggest threats come from. Asking questions can be a dangerous business, regardless of which side of the law you are on. The war is over and Italy is rebuilding but the explosions and the death aren’t finished yet.
The resilience of the Italian people is commendable in the face of adversity, and though the troops are there to help the people still see them as intruders and aren’t willing to answer their questions. Not necessarily a bad thing when talking to the troops is likely to get you killed.
The Liberation will entrance and enthrall while it keeps you guessing and trying to get to the bottom of all the mysteries hidden within its pages.
Thanks Kate Furnivall and Simon & Schuster for a fabulous book.