I hope you are finding ways to stay cool and having fun this summer. We’ve been in the middle of a heat wave recently and I can’t help but wish for fall (my favorite season).
Today I am thrilled to share my review of The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron. This book was released today!! I was lucky to receive a complimentary copy of this novel from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.
This book intrigued me for several reasons:
- I love everything that I read by Kristy. Her writing is absolutely beautiful!
- A favorite time period with a new twist. I love WWII literature with some of my favorite books set in that time period. But I hadn’t read any books set in WWII Italy. This was a fantastic setting!
- Beautiful cover and intriguing summary. I felt like this would be a hopeful, powerful story.
Book Summary: “A prima ballerina. Two American medics. And a young Jewish girl with no name . . . At the height of the Nazi occupation of Rome, an unlikely band of heroes comes together to save Italian Jews 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 that is 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 Italian Jews from the deadly clutches of the Holocaust. But when one little girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina arrives at their door, Julia and the others are determined to reunite the young dancer with her family—if only she would reveal one crucial secret: her name.
Present Day. With the recent loss of her grandfather—a beloved small-town doctor and WWII veteran—Delaney Coleman returns home to help her aging parents, even as she struggles to pick up the pieces of her own life. When a mysterious Italian woman claims she owns one of the family’s precious heirlooms, Delaney is compelled to uncover what’s true of her grandfather’s hidden past. Together with 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 as she wrestles with the possibility that the man she’d revered all her life had unknown ties to Rome and may have taken noble secrets to his grave.
Based on true accounts of the invented Syndrome K sickness, The Italian Ballerina journeys from the Allied storming of the beaches at Salerno to the London ballet stage and the war-torn streets of WWII Rome, exploring the sometimes heart-wrenching choices we must make to find faith and forgiveness, and how saving just one life can impact countless others.”
One of my favorite things about Kristy’s stories is how she bring new perspectives to popular time periods. WWII is a popular and well documented time period. I love these types of stories that showcase the best of the human spirit and beauty among darkness. In fact, some of my favorite books are set during WWII. Kristy always impresses me with her unique settings and details within this popular genre. This novel is no different. I haven’t read many novels set in WWII Italy. I was fascinated by the details of life there and how the Nazis occupation and influence affected the people. And the ways people resisted the darkness of this time. Add to all of this the historical details and true accounts from this time period, and the story is both engaging and fascinating. I couldn’t believe the incredible courage and faith of our protagonists as they navigate a war torn world and try to do good.
I love how Kristy creates multiple timelines and perspectives that she connects in clever ways. I really enjoyed Julia’s timeline and learning so much about ballet and performance at this time. Delaney in the present day intrigued me as well. We often have a modern day timeline in Kristy’s books and I always enjoy discovering how they fit into the past. I loved the journey Delaney goes on and how she discovers more about her family and herself. The modern Italian setting is fantastic as well! And I was particularly moved by Courtney’s story with all that he saw and experienced. War is a horrific and dark place. Yet Kristy writes about it with such poise and grace.
As always, I was struck by the beauty and power of this story. Kristy writes deeply emotional stories that always inspire me. This story showcases the power of the human spirit and the triumph of goodness and light no matter the dark obstacles. I think what sets this book apart from others in the genre is the unique combination of beautiful writing and stories of human goodness. Kristy gives us a beautiful story that also gives me hope for humanity and for the goodness inside all of us.
Kristy Cambron has again created a vivid, engaging novel interweaving lives and times in a beautiful story celebrating the good that can be found in the darkest of times. I cannot recommend her novels highly enough!
What are some of your favorite WWII novels?
Any fellow Kristy Cambron fans out there? Which of her novels do you love?
KRISTY CAMBRON is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where art, history, and faith intersect. She’s a Christy Award-winning author of historical fiction, including bestselling novels, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN and THE PARIS DRESSMAKER, and nonfiction, including the Verse Mapping series of Bibles and Bible studies. A self-proclaimed history nerd, she loves to chase all things research, going behind the scenes at a Ringling Bros. Sarasota mansion, touring a former TB sanitarium, making bee friends at a working honey farm, or embarking on a back-roads jaunt across Ireland being a few.
She holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and spent 15 yrs in education and leadership development for a Fortune 100 corporation, partnering with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup before stepping away to pursue her passion for storytelling. Her work has been named to: Cosmopolitan Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2021, Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations, and received a 2020 Christy Award for her novel, THE PAINTED CASTLE. She’s been featured at: Cosmopolitan, Publishers Weekly, Once Upon a Book Club Box, Frolic, Book Club Girl, BookBub, Country Woman Magazine, Jesus Calling, FaithGateway, CBN, Lifeway Women, MICI Magazine, Faithwire, (in)Courage, and BibleGateway.
Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can be found penning her next stories in a beloved coffee shop corner with kayaks on the wall. (She’s only bumped her head twice…)