Delighted to welcome Angela Petch back to my blog to celebrate the publication of her new novel The Girl Who Escaped published by Bookouture. Angela is going to explain to readers why she wrote this book and it is absolutely fascinating. Over to Angela …
Most of my Italian books have a connection with family or Italian friends who have inspired me. I have to really be interested in a work in progress in order to write from the heart.
Nonno Luigi Micheli (above) was my half-Italian husband’s grandfather – or Nonno, as we say. In my book, The Girl Who Escaped, he is Luigi Michelozzi and as you might guess, his personality is based on Nonno. Here he is at our wedding near Urbino, his beloved city and the main location in my story.
Luigi was ardently anti-fascist and there were often heated discussions at mealtimes but he was also very modest. After he died, we discovered papers where he had meticulously recorded everything – including his activities during World War Two. Hidden away was a medal, received for bravery as an active partisan. He never boasted about this but he had risked his life by altering details of the Jews who lived in Urbino, to save them from persecution. He was the city registrar in the town hall and kept up the pretence of being a member of the fascisti so that he could be of use in the resistance, with the information he garnered. Penalty, if discovered, was death. As he had two young children at the time, my husband’s grandmother, (Nonna), was understandably anxious. But he was a very principled man and nothing would dissuade him from the fight for liberty.
I read many books during my research, including a compilation of accounts in Italian contributed by people from all walks of life and I was staggered to learn that 80% of Italian and foreign Jews in Italy were saved. Elsewhere in Europe, 80% of Jews lost their lives. This statistic, plus the descriptions of the very different kinds of internment camps for Jews in Italy, were vital material for my book. But I wasn’t surprised. Ordinary Italians risked their lives to harbour refugees and escaped POWs during World War Two. They are a generous and hospitable race. What did surprise me, was when I visited the Jewish museum in Ferrara and could find no mention of this bravery. As if this was a perfectly normal thing to do: to save the lives of fellow human beings, despite grave personal danger. Of course, there were harsh antisemitic laws passed by Mussolini and not everybody was big-hearted, but still, the numbers speak for themselves.
I have dedicated my book to Luigi and the brave Italians who saved lives. The plight of Jews in Italy during this period is a little-told story and I hope I have done it justice.
Little did I know when I married my lovely half-Italian husband almost forty-five years ago in Castel Cavallino, a hamlet near Urbino, that I would one day have a book published about events that occurred in the war in this beautiful area.
About Angela Petch
Published by Bookouture, Angela Petch is an award-winning writer of fiction – and the occasional poem.
Every summer she moves to Tuscany for six months where she and her husband own a renovated watermill which they let out. When not exploring their unspoilt corner of the Apennines, she disappears to her writing desk at the top of a converted stable. In her Italian handbag or hiking rucksack she always makes sure to store notebook and pen to jot down ideas.
The winter months are spent in Sussex where most of her family live. When Angela’s not helping out with grandchildren, she catches up with writer friends.
Angela’s gripping, WWII, Tuscan novels are published by Bookouture. While her novel, Mavis and Dot, was self-published and tells of the frolics and foibles of two best-friends who live by the seaside. Angela also writes short stories published in Prima and People’s Friend.
To connect with Angela, you can use the following links:
About The Girl Who Escaped
Italy, 1940. The girl sobs and rages as her father tells her the terrible news. “Italy is entering the war alongside Germany. Jews are to be arrested and sent to camps. We have to be ready.”
As fascists march across the cobbled piazzas and past the towered buildings of her beloved home city, twenty-year-old Devora’s worst fears come true. Along with her Jewish parents and twin little brothers they are torn away from everything they love and sent to an internment camp huddled in the mountains. Her father promises this war will not last long…
When they are offered a miraculous chance of escape by her childhood friend Luigi, who risks everything to smuggle vital information into the camp, the family clambers under barbed wire and races for the border. But Devora is forced to make a devastating choice between saving a stranger’s life and joining her parents. As shots fire in the moonless night, the family is separated.
Haunted by the question of whether they are dead or alive, all Devora can do for their future is throw herself into helping Luigi in the Italian resistenza in the fight for liberty. But posing as a maid for a German commander to gather secret intelligence, Devora is sure she sees her friend one night, in a Nazi uniform…
Is Devora in more danger than ever? And will her family ever be reunited – or will the war tear them apart?
An absolutely devastating but ultimately uplifting historical novel about how love and hope can get us through the darkest times. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Rhys Bowen and Soraya M. Lane.
Read what everyone’s saying about Angela Petch:
‘Wow! Just Wow!… phenomenal… A novel I will never forget… Brilliant… 5 glorious stars for whisking me away to Italy… beautiful… I LOVED this novel!’ Cindy L Spear, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Buying link for The Girl Who Escaped: https://geni.us/B0BYC1V9NHcover
Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Summer at Lucerne Lodge – Now available on Kindle Unlimited Amazon
Christmas at the Little Beach Cafe – Now available on Kindle Unlimited – Amazon
Sunny Days at the Beach – Now available on Kindle Unlimited –Amazon
Christmas at Borteen Bay – Amazon Kindle and Choc Lit for other buying options.
The Truth Lies Buried – Choc Lit, Amazon
The Girl on the Beach – Choc Lit – Amazon
Published by Choc Lit an imprint of Joffe Books
Thank you SO MUCH for inviting me on your lovely blog today. It was a hard book to write, but one I felt I had to write. I hope Nonno Luigi won’t mind my writing about him. He was such a modest man. But his and other “ordinary” people’s stories of bravery should be told. p.s. I don’t think of him as being ordinary. xx
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I’m sure he would be very proud that his story had been told. ⭐️