The year is 1943. The Nazis have invaded Italy; American troops have landed. At Aldo's restaurant on the Adriatic coast, Lucia Fantini entertained customers for years with her marvelous opera singing. But normal operations are over. The restaurant has been seized by "nazifascisti," and a Resistance squad of waiters and local tradesmen has been formed, led by Lucia's son, Beppino. When Beppino disappears, Lucia must journey across war-devastated Italy to find him. Aided by a richly drawn cast of characters, the story of her adventures is told with the vigor, drama, and lyrical grace of an Italian opera, in a brilliantly arranged narrative that places tragic events side-by-side with high comedy, domestic intrigues, and gripping details. In this captivating story of a mother and son, Cooney enters a world of peril and chance, and brings to life the extraordinary Resistance movement of the Italian people.
About the Author
Ellen Cooney is the author of A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies and other novels. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and many literary journals. She has taught writing at MIT, Harvard, and Boston College, and now lives with her dogs Andy, Skip, and Maxine - who are, each in their way, rescues.
“A writer with style and heart.” —O, The Oprah Magazine “This remarkably talented author writes in a refined, understated prose.” —The New York Times Book Review “A war story with personality.” —New York Post“Cooney's darkly comic journey of revelation triumphantly demonstrates the sustaining power of love, duty, family, and friendship.” —Booklist“Ellen Cooney's prose is beautifully descriptive.” —Charleston Post and Courier “Lovingly presented . . . touching . . . Cooney explores how war causes not just injury to the body, but more importantly explains how every participant can be ‘injured in his nerves, in his self, in his soul.’” —Kirkus "This is surely Ellen Cooney's most original work. Who else would have placed a squad of partisans in the Italian Resistance, who happen to be waiters in a seaside restaurant famous for the opera sung by the owner's wife, against a backdrop of bombed, wartorn Italy? The effect is positively Felliniesque."—Anita Desai