Wednesday 24 February 2021

Book ~ "Our Darkest Night" (2021) Jennifer Robson

From Goodreads ~ It is the autumn of 1943 and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive - to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow - and with them his determination to exact revenge.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart

It's autumn 1943 and Antonina is a Jew living in Italy with her father (her mother is ill and in a nearby rest home).  To protect Antonina, her father arranges with his friend, who is a priest, to have Antonina live with a Catholic family on a farm and pretend to be the Catholic wife of Nico, one of the sons, until the war is over.  She doesn't want to go but her father convinces her it is the only way she can stay safe.  

Nico has been helping Jews escape the country and carries on with this mission once Antonina (now called Nina) moves in with him and his family.  As Nina settles in to farm life, she and Nico become friends and eventually fall in love.  A former schoolmate of Nico's is now a Nazi official and suspects something is up and is determine to find out what it is.

I thought this book was okay.  It is written in third person perspective in Nina's voice.  The story started off interestingly enough with Nina giving up her life in the city to move to the country and pretend to be Nico's wife.  But then it took a dark turn suddenly.  While I had to applaud Nico's dedication to wanting to save lives, I would have thought that he would have given it up once he fell in love in Nina.  Plus his actions put his family in danger and I can't imagine having his family terrorized and beaten was worth it.

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