Beneath a Scarlet Skyby Published 01 May 2017
|Beneath a Scarlet Sky.pdf|
|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
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.
Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.
"Beneath a Scarlet Sky" Reviews
Στο βιβλιο αυτο συνανταμε σαν κυριο ηρωα τον ιταλο Πινο Λελα, εναν νεαρο που ζει την εποχη του Β' Παγκοσμιου πολεμου.κι ενω η ηλικια του θα επρεπε να χαρακτηριζεται απο ανεμελια και ξεγνοιασια, οι εξελιξεις τον υποχρεωνουν να ωριμασει και να γινει ενας γενναιος ανδρας που θα βοηθησει με πολλους και διαφορους τροπους τη χωρα του σε αυτη την πολυ δυσκολη περιοδο και που θα γινει μερος της ιστοριας της.
Προκειται για πραγματικα γεγονοτα που ο ιδιος ο πρωταγωνιστης διηγηθηκε στον συγγραφεα του βιβλιου , πραγμα το οποιο δινει μια ακομη πιο ξεχωριστη νοτα στη διηγηση.το βιβλιο ειναι εξαιρετικα δομημενο και ουσιαστικα διδασκει ιστορια μεσα απο το πρισμα μυθιστορηματος.ενδιαφερον απο την πρωτη εως την τελευταια σελιδα και σε πολλα σημεια με ανατριχιαστικες περιγραφες της φρικαλεοτητας του πολεμου.το τελικο συμπερασμα που μου αφησε ηταν παρομοιο με τον "ανθρωπο που αγαπουσε τα σκυλια". Τελικα σε εναν πολεμο δεν υπαρχουν νικητες παρα μονο χαμενοι και ψυχες που χανονται αδικα ή (ισως ακομη χειροτερα) δε βρισκουν ποτε τη λυτρωση.
2 1/2 stars. This should be a fascinating story, but, unfortunately, the writing is poor. I would even say it's repetitive, juvenile and boring. It's nowhere near as engaging as I would expect from a book that has a 4.4 average rating over 48,000+ readers.
The strength of Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes from it's exploration of the Italian experience under Mussolini during the Second World War. I know almost nothing about what happened here, despite having read A LOT of books and memoirs set during this time. I've read countless tales about the Germans, Polish, the British and the Americans, so it was extremely refreshing to get a new perspective.
Also, Sullivan interviewed the real Pino Lella - the protagonist of this book - and based much of the story on his tales and memories. It is a fictionalized, much-embellished true story, which makes it even more effective to many, I'm sure.
That being said, the writing really does leave something to be desired. Writing style is not something I comment on too often, but it was obvious to me as soon as I began reading that - at the very least - Beneath a Scarlet Sky could have done with some extra rounds of (heavy) editing.
And I know that the author's starting disclaimer is basically a cute way of saying "Look, some parts are absolute bullshit that I made up to make the story more interesting" but my suspension of disbelief was strained a bit when Pino's life becomes something of a superhero tale. Dramatic event after dramatic event unfolds, and I feel that if a young guy really did do half the things Pino Lella apparently did then he would be as famous as Harry Potter. Not the long-forgotten star of a semi-biographical novel.
The history is interesting.
The story is, on occasion, compelling.
But true, semi-true, maybe true? Yeah, I'm not convinced.
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One feature of every hugely engaging novel is that it’s palpable throughout that the author has invested a great deal of heart and imagination into the narrative. This is far from always the case. There’s sometimes a sense an author is fulfilling a contractual obligation or is never quite inspired by his/her characters or story. This is one of those novels where it’s obvious the author has thrown himself heart and soul into his material and achieved an imaginative identification with its hero so intense that he is able to write as if he experienced everything first hand. The visual detail throughout was especially mesmerising.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the fictionalised true story of a young Italian boy’s experiences during WW2. Pino Lella never spoke about his wartime exploits until he was an old man. There was a reason for this. Despite his heroics he has carried with him a harrowing haunting secret, a secret he believes to be shameful. We won’t find out what this secret is until the latter part of the novel.
Pino performs two wartime roles – firstly he becomes the guide of an underground escape route for Jewish families fleeing to Switzerland. Later he becomes the driver of one of the most powerful Nazi generals in Italy. In this role he wears a German uniform and the swastika armband, much to the disgust of many of his family, friends and countrymen. However, unknown to everyone, even his brother, he is working as a spy.
At one point there’s the suspicion this book is too long. The war in Milan is over and yet there are still over a hundred pages to go. But the huge surprise now is the tension is ratcheted up even further. The final hundred pages are the most intense of the novel, quite a feat considering how exciting the narrative has been throughout.
One problem with fictionalising real life is it doesn’t always offer the resolutions that are a vital part of the form of the novel. We need to feel a story has sense, that all the loose threads are eventually embroidered into the tapestry. I was worrying about this towards the end. I was especially thinking of a minor and yet oddly significant character who appeared early in the narrative but then vanished. I found I wanted to know what happened to him. Then, lo and behold, he reappears. This is another extraordinary facet of Pino’s life – it often assumes the tidy order of a novel. This is most astonishingly true when he discovers the maid of his general’s mistress is the older woman he once on an impulse asked for a date on the streets of Milan. Anna, the woman, becomes the love of his love. It’s like there’s no such thing as a random encounter in Pino’s life. All the dots are joined. This is further emphasised in the brief account of Pino’s post-war life – one day he meets an old friend who persuades him to cancel the flight he’s booked on so they can catch up – the flight he cancels is the infamous Lockerbie flight that crashes in Scotland. He also tries to dissuade James Dean from buying the Porsche that killed him when he’s working as a car salesman in California! His instinct is Dean won’t be able to handle the power of the car.
I will say there is one resolution we don’t get, which is the mystery of the German officer he works for. The author endeavours to clear him up at the end of the novel but the vital mystery of him eludes him.
Anyway, this was a fabulous read. A stunning feat of research and imaginative identification and gripping storytelling.
3 neutral stars
The book synopsis sums up the first 35% of the novel really well. Therefore, I am not going to summarize the plot here. I didn't hate Beneath a Scarlet Sky, but I didn't really love this book either. I did love the cover, the title, and that this was a WWII era book situated in Italy. Most of the books I read are heavy on the France/Poland narrative and I appreciated the different angle. I will say that it was refreshing to have a male protagonist be shown in a very different light. I have read a few reviews that speculate that Mark T. Sullivan was showcasing the young Pino as somewhat of a superhero.
On the contrary, I was stunned by how incredibly naive Pino was. About rule under Mussolini, the rounding up of the Jewish people, and the oversimplification of the Catholic Church not wanting to take a stand against Adolf Hitler. But the biggest problem I had and where Sullivan really lost me was Pino's involvement as a spy. That is where I begin to question the validity of the story that was being retold on the pages. Maybe I am just not as trusting,but there is something whispering in my ear to be cautious about this tale.
I know, I know, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is rumoured to be a major film starring Tom Holland and the interviews I read from many online websites, including the UK times. The times claim it the "forgotten true story of a real hero who saved Jewish people " and I am sure many people will flock to the cinema and be bowled over by a man who fought against the Nazi occupiers, but I just am not won over by this book. I feel it is in the same category as "All the Light We Cannot See which also received glowing reviews, but was another "ok, I am still the same person after reading this book." Am I becoming more infused with cynicism as I get older?
All in all, it didn't work for me, but it just might for someone else.
I know I've been gone, but I'm back now so don't worry I'll be clogging your feeds with my garbage reviews again now. I already started reading my next book.
A semi biographical story about an Italian teenager Pino Lella who is sent to a convent after Allied forces airstrike destroys his home in Milan. At the convent he helps the priest smuggle out Jews to Switzerland who have come there for help. He meets and falls in love with Anna, an older widow. Eventually he is called home and made to join the army for protection. Eventually he uses his position in the army as a driver to one of the most powerful German generals to spy for the Allies.
There are so many positive reviews for this book but I honestly hated it. It was difficult for me to finish this book. I have been busy and not had as much time to read but at the same time this book was part of the reason I haven't read anything in weeks because it was just so boring that I didn't even feel like reading really, it felt like torture reading it. I don't think it was the story itself that was the problem but the execution. It was painfully boring and the author just kept telling and not showing us anything or illustrating things for us. There was no suspense built up and I felt zero attachment to any of the characters, even though they're real people. This has to be one of the hardest books I've forced myself to finish reading just because it felt like there was so much unnecessary detail included and because everything was just told out without really a narrative or story line to help build up my interest. Thank god I'm done with it.