Synopsis (from amazon)
In 1933, Bella Stuart leaves her quiet London life to move to Italy to tutor the child of a beautiful Jewish heiress and an elderly Italian aristocrat. Living at the family’s summer home, Bella’s reserve softens as she comes to love her young charge, and find friendship with Maestro Edward, his enigmatic music teacher. But as the decade draws to an end and fascism tightens its grip on Europe, the fact that Alec is Jewish places his life in grave danger. Bella and Edward take the boy on a terrifying train journey out of Italy – one they have no reason to believe any of them will survive…
I was surprised to find that this book had three storylines running through it, as only one appears in the synopsis. The first (and probably main) story is the story of Bella. A spinster essentially (considering her age and the time she was living in) who is sent to Italy in the reign of Mussolini by her father to care for a young boy- Alec.
The second story, which takes place in modern times, is that of a woman who watches as her Grandmother slowly dies in front of her eyes and finds out that, despite being brought up by the woman, she barely knew her at all.
The third is the story of a man who flees his home after killing his sister in a drunken rage- also set during the run up to the second world war.
Somehow all the storylines were a little too much. We enter the story with the last storyline, which put me off a little as it was not at all what I expected. In some ways this story added a flavour to the story- and maybe explanations for later on, but it wasn’t really needed.
The second storyline just frustrated me because it took me away from the story I was interested in, and it definitely wasn’t needed. I’m not even sure why Dwyer Hickey decided to include it.
The main story itself did take sometime to get going. But it did mean that I felt like I was building a relationship with Bella, and although at times it did feel a little like it was dragging ultimately it made me care about her, enough that her story ended too abruptly for me.
I loved the way atmosphere was built in this story. The beauty of Italy contrasting with the increasingly tense atmosphere. It was like some sort of reverse pathetic fallacy (is there actually a term for that? I’m sure there is but really cannot think of it).
As a war story, Last Train From Liguria is different, maybe it is more realistic in its way. Bella seems very naive but maybe she was just in denial? I’m sure there were plenty of people like that.
Have you reviewed this book? Add your link in comments and I will add it here.