At the height of the Nazi occupation of Rome, an unlikely band of heroes comes together to save innocent lives in this breathtaking World War II novel based on real historical events.
Rome, 1943. With the fall of Italy’s Fascist government and the Nazi regime occupying the streets of Rome, British ballerina Julia Bradbury is stranded and forced to take refuge at a hospital on Tiber Island. But when she learns of a deadly sickness sweeping through the quarantine wards—a fake disease known only as Syndrome K—she is drawn into one of the greatest cons in history. Alongside hospital staff, friars of the adjoining church, and two Allied medics, Julia risks everything to rescue Jewish Italians from the deadly clutches of the Holocaust. Soon a little girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina arrives at their door, and Julia is determined to reunite the young dancer with her family—if only she would reveal one crucial secret: her name.
Present Day. Delaney Coleman recently lost her grandfather—a beloved small-town doctor and World War II veteran, so she returns home to help her aging parents. When a mysterious Italian woman reaches out claiming to own one of the family’s precious heirlooms, Delaney is compelled to travel to Italy and uncover the truth of her grandfather’s hidden past. With the help of the woman’s skeptical but charming grandson, Delaney learns of a Roman hospital that saved hundreds of Jewish people during the war. Soon, everything Delaney thought she knew about her grandfather comes into question.
I'll be honest, it has been so long since I read anything by this author, but I've always kept her name in the back of my head as a word artist. In fact, I think the exact term I have her filed under is "magician." I saw this gorgeous cover at the store and just had to have it. Turns out, best decision ever! In split timelines, it can be easy to care for one time over the other, but from the very beginning I was invested in every single piece of this story. It was woven together in the most magical way possible. I stayed up late until I just couldn't keep my eyes focused because I wanted to know what was happening. I carried it with me everywhere, even when I knew I didn't have time to read. The characters were so important to me, and I loved them all dearly. The suspense had me fully immersed in the world, and the back and forth with the timeline kept me oh so engaged. I cried. I laughed. I made loud noises in silent rooms. I raged over things I can't mention because it'll be spoilers. This story captured me from the very beginning and wouldn't let go even after it was concluded. I wanted it to keep going on and on forever. I went into some serious book hangover when it was finished. What a fresh perspective on WW2!