A blog dedicated to my opinion on books

Friday, July 28, 2017

"From Sand and Ash" by Amy Harmon

Title: From Sand and Ash
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Year:  2016

Genre(s):  contemporary, romance, coming-of-age
Part of a Series: No

Why I read it: Once Upon a Book Club selection

Summary: Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco have known each other since children. As they grew up, they grew closer—but Angelo has always been destined for the priesthood, the only profession considered for him since he had a deformed leg, so their love was never meant to be. The situation became worse as fascism took hold in Italy and Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, for Eva and her family are Jewish. Angelo is ordained and uses the power of the Church to help save Jewish people in Italy as the Nazis take over. As Angelo does everything he can to protect Eva, she does everything she can to resist the Nazis. They play a dangerous game with the Nazis…and each other.

Review: This was a bit difficult to get through, but by no means through the fault of Ms. Harmon. It’s the subject matter. Of course, World War II and the Holocaust is difficult to read. There were times that I could feel my blood pressure rising and myself growing angry. Which is a credit to Ms. Harmon. Her writing evoked a strong emotional reaction from me.

Let’s start with the characters, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco. They are like night and day at the start. Eva is outgoing and a risk-taker while Angelo is more reserved and cautious. He’s been brought up knowing the priesthood is his destiny and so is obsessed with the sacred while Eva is more into the profane. She plays the violin and is a sought after musician, living the carefree life of a young woman born into privilege. Ms. Harmon shows how the war changes both of them, requiring them to find strengths they didn’t know they had. It was wonderful watching them change and mature—Ms. Harmon created two beautiful character arcs.

Onto the romance…It’s one of my favorite tropes, friends to lovers. And you throw in a dash of forbidden love since Angelo is, you know, a priest. Ms. Harmon builds it well, laying the seeds in early chapters when Eva and Angelo are children and tending to those seeds carefully until we have a fully blossomed romance. There is angst and there is joy and it’s all a delight to read.

Ms. Harmon has definitely done her research. She weaves in events and people from the German occupation in Rome with ease and seamlessly adds Eva and Angelo to this world. She also uses description well to create a setting, including an emotional one. The reader feels the fear and danger these characters are living with.

Bottom line: A beautifully written romance set against the backdrop of a horrific war.
Sex: Yes, though nothing too graphic

Moonlight Musing

Have you ever read something that made you so angry because of what was happening to the characters?

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