A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart
Hachette Australia, March 2017
Advanced Review Copy provided by publisher
I love the cover for this book, it looks so pretty and serene. In reality, the story is set in 1917 wartime Italy. I hadn’t read any Pamela Hart novels prior to this year, but I’d received a couple of her books for review over recent months and when I heard an interview where Pamela spoke of the premise for this book I decided I was intrigued. I scoured my TBR shelf and selected The War Bride and was hooked immediately. When Hart’s third historical novel was sent to me for review, I didn’t hesitate to read it.
A Letter From Italy was inspired by Australia’s first female war correspondent, Louise Mack. In Hart’s novel, the protagonist Rebecca Quinn is an aspiring journalist who follows her husband to the frontline to send stories back to her homeland, Australia.
When her husband sets off on a secret journalism mission, for an unspecified timeframe, instead of going home to write for the fashion pages, Rebecca decides to make her mark as a solo journalist. There’s just one problem. As a woman, she has restricted access to confidential information and press releases, though she does have established connections and local sources, it’s not enough to write a story. She must team up with passionate, American-born Italian photographer Sandro.
It’s an unconventional working relationship and it brings her reputation into disrepute but Rebecca is determined not to let oppression and prejudice get in the way of a good story, or securing her place as a respected journalist.
The relationship between Rebecca and Sandro is complicated by their developing feelings, their friendship and mutual professional respect. And, it turns out Rebecca’s husband may not be all he seems.
A common theme in Hart’s historical novels is exploring the role of women in the early 1900’s, usually at a time when there was immense societal change. How relationships pre-war were tested (and possibly unsuited after the war) and the fighting spirit of women who wanted more from life than housewifery and breeding. This effusive thing called a career became very desirable- and within reach for women of this era, but not without many hurdles. The challenges faced by forward-thinking women in backward times is explored by Hart in a realistic, thought-provoking way.
An interesting read and I’ll be sure to next pick up from my TBR shelf, The Soldier’s Wife.
A Letter From Italy is released in March and is now available for pre-order from Fishpond.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.