Hello, hello, hope you all are having a great Saturday! Also hoping it’s not as cold as rainy as here, bleurgh. However, if it is, I may have a brilliant remedy for you – the book that I am going to review today, as it’s my turn on Sara Alexander’s blog tour, is as sunny as the Sardinian Sky mentioned in the title, it is delicious to read and it is for sure going to brighten a day like this!
Under the Sardinian Sky by Sara Alexander
Publishing Date: 20th April 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Set against the beautiful backdrop of post-World War II Sardinia, Sara Alexander’s evocative novel is a sweeping story of star-crossed romance between an American lieutenant and a local girl.
Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most important secrets. For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession. Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.
In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh. Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.
As Mina follows the threads of Carmela s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.
I am the first in the line for a good historical fiction, so when the opportunity to review “Under a Sardinian Sky” came my way I didn’t hesitate for long. This book is set in the 1950’s Sardinia and it includes all of the elements that make a novel really great – lovely setting, interesting background, traditional Italian families and scandal. Hello, I thought, or salve – give me this novel, like, pronto. It immediately transported me into this different era and the characters’ world.
So. This book. It gave me a headache, really. I absolutely loved the writing style, the descriptions and even the characters were nicely drawn, but… Yes, but. But after the initial euphoria that I am so in love with the book there came a moment that it started to feel too flat for my liking, and in the end it just didn’t wow me. After such a promising start I was expecting the story is going to continue like this but – sadly – for me it just went downhill and it didn’t keep my attention.
The story features Carmela, a young Sardinian girl, oldest child in her family, currently engaged to Franco. A very talented girl – a great seamstress who could also speak fluent English, which was very useful, as there were American soldiers stationing nearby, in need of interpreters. And needless to say, this closeness to those Americans was a reason of the troubles that were to come. Introducing here Joe Kavanagh, who felt in love not only with Sardinia and landscape and the Italian hospitality but also with a girl that was promised to another man.
The author introduces us to SO MANY background characters in this story that really quickly I stopped to try to understand who is who and in which relationship they are to Carmela and her family. The names were like a blur, and so many of them were too insignificant to the story in my opinion and I didn’t want to waste my time for them. Carmela herself was a multi – layered character and as it usually happens in historical fiction, she was much ahead of her times, although she valued her family and traditions very much. However, she was brave enough to see what it is she wants from her own life and that she wants much more from marriage than is being promised to her. She wanted to be treated like a human being and not a machine bringing children into the world and cooking all day long. Her story was brought to us through Mina – and guys, please help me here, but why? Carmela was the hugest taboo in Mina’s family, they just didn’t talk about her and yet here comes Mina and tells us her story, and I just couldn’t understand why did she feel this need? It would work perfectly without Mina, trust me, and the end would also work without her – maybe wouldn’t feel so rushed like it felt when I read it.
As much as I appreciated the descriptions of the setting, food and all other things, after the initial fascination I started to feel a little tired with them all. Each thing, event and material used for sewing a dress were described in a very minutiaed, detailed way and sometimes they took many pages, and I just wanted to get back to the thread, to see what’s going to happen. Of course, the author could bring all the smells and freshly cooked food to life but there came a moment that I couldn’t take it any longer. Also, the inner monologues of the characters, especially of Carmela, started to be really tiring – I wanted her to get straight to the point and not weigh up all the pro and cons (yes, you can say a lot about Carmela but not that she was spontaneous – there was not a place left for questions or understatements, she was just over thinking everything and mostly it made me feel desperate), only do!
But altogether, “Under a Sardinina Sky” was a very atmospheric love story, but it also touched upon many different issues, such as deciding what it is you want from your own life, about courage, love and family bonds. The writing was evocative and, my problems aside, it was truly beautiful and atmospheric. I didn’t have any problems to feel a part of the characters’ world, such vivid was the writing. The author has thoroughly researched the era she was writing about, bringing all the traditions and the family bonds so easily and effortlessly to life. A lovely, colourful story about a young woman with a backbone (finally!), about choices and being fearless in following your dreams and your heart. I am already looking forward to reading Sara Alexander’s another novel.
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