4.7.16

BOOK REVIEW: Early One Morning by Virginia Baily

A grey dawn in 1943: on a street in Rome, two young women, complete strangers to each other lock eyes for a single moment.
And in that moment, two lives change forever.

Publisher: Fleet
Pages: 389

This wonderful book begins in Rome in 1943: Chiara Ravello has already lost her mother and her fiance to the war and now lives alone with her sister Cecilia. One morning she observes that the ghetto is being cleared, she sees a family huddling together and she locks eyes with the mother. Without any words being spoken, she claims one of the young boys as her nephew and ultimately saves him from the concentration camp. It's not a well thought out decision and Chiara finds herself hurrying home, clutching the hand of Daniele Levi; she is now all he has left in the world and she must do all she can to protect him.
The book follows Chiara and Daniele Levi to the present day as the author explores the many consequences of Chiara's decision.
Rome is my favourite city and in the book it is like an extra character. I fell in love all over again with Virginia Baily's descriptions bringing it to life. The author went to visit her aunt in Rome when she was sixteen and her love and passion for this beautiful city shines through.
Chiara is a particularly interesting character. She has already been through so much when we first meet her, you would almost forgive her for turning a blind eye to Daniele Levi's mother. But she doesn't, instead she takes on this young boy even though she has an ill sister to care for. She also knows that if found out, she would surely be put to death too for hiding the Jewish boy.
It was so refreshing that Virginia Baily did not paint a romantic ideal in this book. Woman saves life of boy and they both go skipping off into the sunset. Instead Baily highlights how Chiara's decision has left both her and Daniele Levi with many demons whilst also effecting the lives of many others around them.
Early One Morning is a beautiful book, the language used by the author is rich and captivating and the story she tells is so moving, this is one of my favourite books of the year so far.

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