The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian is a powerhouse of a novel. Readers of this site know that I am a huge lover of World War II novels. This is one but is very different in nature as it is a mystery set after World War II. Bohjalian’s characters are so perfectly portrayed that you know their personas and flaws. You simply cannot put this novel down as the story is SO intense that you have to keep reading.
From the publisher, ” a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge—set in war-ravaged Tuscany.
1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.
1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.”
When you read this novel (and I suggest that you do so immediately), you will see how Chris Bohjalian creates Serafina and Francesca to be the most intense and flawed characters. I was riveted by the mysterious murders in this book. Simply riveted! A must- read!!
Doubleday provided a digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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