16 November 2023

Review: RETURN TO VALETTO, Dominic Smith

  •  this edition published in2923 by Allen and Unwin
  • ISBN 978-1-76106-727-3
  • 358  pages 

Synopsis (publisher)

A captivating and moving new novel from the international bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.
A nearly abandoned Italian village, the family that stayed, and long-buried secrets from World War II.

On a hilltop in Umbria sits Valetto. Once a thriving village-and a hub of resistance and refuge during World War II-centuries of earthquakes, landslides and the lure of a better life have left it neglected. Only ten residents remain, including the widows Serafino - three eccentric sisters and their steely centenarian mother - who live quietly in their medieval villa. Then their nephew and grandson, Hugh, a historian, returns.

But someone else has arrived before him, laying claim to the cottage where Hugh spent his childhood summers. The unwelcome guest is the captivating and no-nonsense Elisa Tomassi, who asserts that the family patriarch, Aldo Serafino, a resistance fighter whom her own family harboured, gave the cottage to them in gratitude. Like so many threads of history, this revelation unravels a secret - a betrayal, a disappearance and an unspeakable act of violence - that has impacted Valetto across generations. Who will answer for the crimes of the past?

Dominic Smith's Return to Valetto is a riveting journey into one family's long-buried story, a page-turning excavation of the ruins of history and our commitment to justice in a fragile world. For fans of Amor Towles, Anthony Doerr and Jess Walter, it is a deeply human and transporting testament to the possibility of love and understanding across gaps of all kinds - even time.

My Take

An unusual novel about justice and retribution. Two young girls abducted by a fascist in their town, disappeared for 3 days, interrogated by him for family secrets, and never recovered from their experience.

A 100 year birthday party becomes an opportunity for the Serafino family to seek an apology from the fascist.

One of those books that is only partly only crime fiction, but rich in cultural history for we outsiders who know so little about Italian history.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Dominic Smith is the author of six novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, which was a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and a best book of the year at Amazon, Slate, the San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus Reviews. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and The Australian, among other publications. He grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Seattle, Washington. 

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin