Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Last night was our second meeting of the book club and everyone who turned up early couldn’t wait to get started talking about the book.
I enjoyed this book, it wouldn’t be one that I would pick up in a library or book shop and would want to read, I normally go more for the light romantic books. I loved the fact that it took place in Italy, which is not usually the setting for war films and books. The love story element that ran through the book, it didn’t really convince me, I didn’t feel their love and was sure that Anna was going to betray Pino at one point. At 17, Pino was truly gifted, he was an expert skier, mountaineer, car driver, translator and pianist.
I liked the historical aspect to it and feel like I’ve learned something about the war in Italy, about the Jews and the slavery that was prevalent. I thought the writing was quite plain, it didn’t evoke any emotions in me and I thought that the delivery would have been better from Pino’s point of view.
There is soon to be a major film with Tom Howard (Spiderman) as Pino, which I will watch with great interest.
A few comments from the Book Club members:
“I was disappointed with the ending, I wanted to know more about Pino’s two marriages and how he met his two wives.”
“I felt connected with the story, as I had relatives who were in World War II and it educated me on the impact of war in Italy.”
“When I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down.”
Our Book Club rating:
This is our next book, written by Liane Moriaty of Big Little Lies fame.