I am delighted to share my review today for Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson. This was such an amazing historical fiction novel that I read mid April. I requested this via Amazon Vine.
Venice, 1943: Under the Nazi occupation, life is increasingly perilous for Italian Jews. Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive – to leave her beloved parents and hide in the countryside, posing as the bride of man she has only just met.
Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to return home to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he refuses to remain a bystander to Nazi and fascist atrocities. The only way to keep Nina safe – and protect secrets of his own – is to convince prying eyes that their sudden marriage is a love match.
But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbours are wary of this soft, educated stranger. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico.
As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their relationship deepens, transforming into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart…
This is the first time I have read a book by this author and it was such a wonderful as well as heartbreaking read. It is a historical fiction that is set against the backdrop of WWII and the persecution of the Jews.
As the synopsis tells, this is the story of Nico and Nina. Nina is a Jew in Venice, through connections with her father she is helped out of the country by Nico and poses as his wife. They two have never met before, but they do become friends and then further entwined as a fuller relationship develops.
The story is very well researched, and there is a good section at the back of the book going into more detail. The story is based on true events and the author has then woven such an incredible and moving story. The life Nina once led is very different to the one she now embraces on the farm. There are so many things for her to learn and also she has to keep the secret of her Jewish roots and of the pretend marriage.
As the persecution of the Jews increases and the reach of Hitler, there is a point where Nina becomes concerned. It is not only Nina but also Nico that is also at risk. He has not only helped her but has been helping with the moving of other people. He will do what he can to help who he can, but this does put him in the sights of a certain German officer.
The author then takes the story into a much more harrowing section, that of the camps. It is here that the emotions for me really came, the sense of loss and uncertainty between life and death. The emaciation and the fear have been done with a balance of hope. That hope does flicker day by day as the war continues.
The author has created a story that I found so very addictive, it is one that’s full of heartbreak and also of hope. Of love, friendship and of family. I did have tears and I found it to be quite emotional at times. This is one for those readers who like historical fiction and saga style books. This was a stunning book to read and one that I would definitely recommend.
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