#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · historical fiction · Throwback Thursday · World War I

Throwback Thursday Book Review: A Letter from Italy by Pamela Hart


Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!

Inspired by the life of the world’s first woman war correspondent, Australia’s letter from italy smallLouise Mack, the most sweeping love story yet by Pamela Hart

1917, Italy. Australian journalist Rebecca Quinn is an unconventional woman. At the height of World War I, she has given up the safety of her Sydney home for the bloody battlefields of Europe, following her journalist husband to the frontline as a war correspondent in Italy.

Reporting the horrors of the Italian campaign, Rebecca finds herself thrown together with American-born Italian photographer Alessandro Panucci, and soon discovers another battleground every bit as dangerous and unpredictable: the human heart.

Pamela Hart is a force to be reckoned with the Australian historical fiction genre. After devouring her previous two titles, The Soldier’s Wife and The War Bride, it is no wonder that A Letter from Italy captured my heart. Hart’s latest novel is another fine Australian fiction title combining war, love and personal aspirations.

A Letter from Italy is inspired by the life of real life figure, Louise Mack. Mack was one of the world’s first female war correspondents. Hart carefully models her chief protagonist, Rebecca Quinn, on Louise. The book opens in the thick of the First World War. Rebecca Quinn decides to follow her husband, a decorated war journalist on the frontline as he covers the war raging through Europe. While covering the battlefield in Italy, Rebecca crosses paths with Alessandro Panucci, who works as a war photographer. Together, the two work to report back the terrible reality of the Italian based war campaign. Matters of the heart play a significant role in the lives of these two characters, as the war rages on in Italy and in many other parts of the world.

I can never get enough of the writing of talented Australian storyteller Pamela Hart. Her latest offering, A Letter from Italy, is another impressive read, combining an inspiring real life figure’s story together with a moving story on love in the midst of war.

Rebecca Quinn, the primary protagonist in A Letter from Italy, is a character who is bursting with life. Rebecca immediately gained my interest and admiration. I felt every step of her battle in the gender stakes to establish herself as a respected war correspondent. I thought Hart did an excellent job of portraying Rebecca’s battle, which is a battle many ambitious women in this man’s world faced. Where Hart particularly shines is in her ability to show how hard it was for Rebecca to step out of her husband’s shadow and be respected for her work as an individual. It made for an absorbing read.

Romance plays a part in A Letter from Italy, but it never overshadows the narrative’s main focus, which is of Rebecca’s fight to be recognised as a war correspondent. Hart is adept at conveying the high emotion attached to relationships during war times. We feel every beat of Rebecca’s heart as she struggles to reconcile her growing feelings for Sandro, while remaining true to her husband. When Rebecca begins to realise her husband Jack is the obstacle in her path to career success it is an enlightening moment in the novel.

War is the central backdrop of this novel, with the events in the book taking place during the height of the war, in the year 1917. Hart draws our attention to various battles, especially naval battles that defined this time and place. I found these segments to be historically informative, reflecting Hart’s dedication to her research.

A highlight of A Letter from Italy is the main setting, which is based around coastal Italy. It could almost be considered as a character in its own right. Hart’s descriptions of this part of the world are beautifully rendered and incredibly vivid. The natural beauty of this region comes across the pages of this book with ease, thanks to Hart’s measured prose.

A Letter from Italy is a memorable love story. This novel provides the reader with an essential insight into the plight women faced in the early 1900’s, through Rebecca Quinn’s poignant struggle. I wouldn’t hesitate to put A Letter from Italy on your reading agenda, this one comes highly recommended.

A Letter from Italy by Pamela Hart was published on 14th March 2017. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of A Letter From Italy, Pamela Hart, visit here.

A Letter from Italy, is book #103 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge



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