- Title: Paradiso
- Author: Francesca Scanacapra
- Publisher: Silvertail Books on May 8, 2021
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Pages: 192
- Formats Available: Paperback & Digital
- Rating: 4/5
Trigger Warnings: War, Gun Violence, Death of a Child, Bullying, Child Abuse
Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and Francesca Scanacapra for providing me with a digital copy of Paradiso with a request for an honest review.
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Italy, 1937. In a tiny village in rural Lombardy, Graziella Ponti is born into a loving family.
Though they are not rich and life is full of challenges, they are content and safe, surrounded by the tightly-knit community of Pieve Santa Clara.
But when the shadow of World War Two falls across the village with the arrival of Nazi soldiers, nothing in young Graziella’s life will ever be the same again.
Paradiso is Graziella’s story. It charts her loves, losses and triumphs as she grows up in post-war Italy, a country in transformation, freed from the shackles of dictatorship yet still gripped by the restraints of the Catholic church.
Paradiso is inspired by true stories told to Francesca Scanacapra by her Italian family and set in locations where she spent much of her childhood. It is a deeply affecting novel which sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Italy’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live in extraordinary times.
This stunning historical read is perfect for fans of Dinah Jeffries, Rhys Bowen, Victoria Hislop, Angela Petch and Heather Morris.
Francesca Scanacapra delivers a stirring novel that tugs at all your heartstrings. Paradiso takes the reader on a tour of historical Italy in times of war and after. Told from the point of view of a young girl facing trials well beyond her years. Yet she still keeps her childlike wonder.
Graziella Ponti loves her life. Her father is everything, and cousin Ernesto is her favorite playmate. Unfortunately, circumstances throw her whole world into a spin. Nothing will ever be the same for Graziella and her family.
As Graziella grows, she faces evil in so many ways. Whether it is German soldiers or a vile teacher, her courage shines through. However, when she is at home, her life is as if none of the bad things can touch her.
This story is uplifting as much as it is heartbreaking. I can’t believe this novel comprises true events from Scanacarpa’s family. I don’t if Graziella is pure fiction, but in my mind, she was real. This belief allows me to have faith in humanity in a way that has been lacking in my life.
The Italian countryside brings to mind warm sunshine and bountiful gardens. Italy is one of those places I have always wanted to visit. I would love to know more about the Ponti family’s village and the surrounding areas. I want to follow in the footsteps of Graziella and feel her bravery.
My only problem with this novel is that I felt as if there was so much more I wanted to know. Graziella’s aunt has a backstory, and I felt cheated that we don’t learn more. I also wanted to know more about the relationship between Graziella and her beau. In this way, I was quite disappointed. But, as I was putting together the particulars for this post, I found there is a second novel coming in June. So, I now have hope that we will get the answers needed for the full story.
Thank you, Francesca, for this tale that touched my heart. I am happy to award Paradiso 4 out of 5 stars. Anyone who loves to visit historical worlds will enjoy this novel. Be prepared to live a life through the eyes of a wondrous girl.
About the Author – Francesca Scanacapra
Francesca Scanacapra was born in Italy to an English mother and Italian father, and her childhood was spent living between England and Italy. Her adult life has been somewhat nomadic and she has pursued an eclectic mixture of career paths, including working as a technical translator between Italian, English, Spanish and French, a gym owner in Spain, an estate agent in France, a property developer in France and Senegal, and a teacher. Francesca lives in Dorset and currently works as a builder with her husband. She has two children.