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Our Darkest Night
Our Darkest Night: A Novel of Italy and the Second World War | Jennifer Robson
To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmers wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robsona story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II. It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to surviveto leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met. Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his familys farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love. But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nicos provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions growand with them his determination to exact revenge. As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .
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review
Librarybelle
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Pickpick

How have I not read anything by Robson yet? Such a captivating and heart wrenching story based on the true story of the horrors and sacrifices faced by Italian Jews and those who worked to fight against the hate and occupation. It‘s a well-told story that slowly unfolds, and one has hope, much like the characters, for a positive ending. So happy this was a choice by the #LiteraryCrew group! #BuddyRead

squirrelbrain Your lovely Christmas card arrived today Jess, thank you! ❤️ 3mo
Librarybelle You are so welcome, @squirrelbrain ! ❤️ 3mo
BiblioLitten I really liked The Gown. 😊 3mo
Librarybelle @BiblioLitten I need to read it!! 3mo
77 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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Librarybelle
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It‘s time for this month‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead discussion! This month‘s read was an unknown piece of history. I have 7 questions posted under spoilers - and this time tried to add additional historical content. You can find the questions by searching my feed, the book‘s feed, or through the hashtags. Anything else you wish to say about this one?

I‘m leaving a final site to review in the comments - Robson has a photo gallery on her website.

Librarybelle Here is the link to view images: https://www.jennifer-robson.com/writing/our-darkest-night/research-photos/
There is also a link to maps!
3mo
tpixie Ooh! Thanks! 3mo
julieclair Still reading… will jump in to the discussion when I‘m finished! 😉 3mo
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Jerdencon I really enjoyed this book! 3mo
mcctrish I never managed this one, school was too busy but I have loved all of your picks so I hope my life settles down in 2024 and I can read more 3mo
Librarybelle @julieclair No worries! I‘m still reading too! 3mo
Librarybelle @Jerdencon So glad!! 3mo
Librarybelle @mcctrish No worries! Would you like me not to include you on the tag list for December? I hope you can find more time to read in 2024! 3mo
mcctrish @Librarybelle I‘ve got December‘s pick ready to pick up from the library - I think I should be okay 3mo
Librarybelle @mcctrish Wonderful! Good luck!! 3mo
39 likes10 comments
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Librarybelle
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7. If you could pick one character from this story to have a book of their own, who would it be? ~from reading discussion guide #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

Jerdencon I think I'd like to read more about Nico and the other people he saved. 3mo
kspenmoll @Jerdencon That could be a separate book. 3mo
kspenmoll I would like to follow the family in the aftermath of the war, as Italy struggles to reunite and build 3mo
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Librarybelle
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6. Why do you think novels set in WWII have become SO popular? What about them resonates so strongly with today‘s readers? ~from reading discussion guide #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

kspenmoll For me, two things developed my interest,reading the diary of Anne Frank in sixth grade, and the knowledge my parents gave me -my mother lost a fiancé in the war; my father was in Naval ROTC in college & finished his BA in 2 years so he could go on to medical school quickly, all paid by the Navy. 3mo
kspenmoll As to others, it was a declared major war involving much of the world- maybe because we were attacked on our own chores at Pearl Harbor, it‘s aftermath, split Europe, Russia, Russia emerged as a contender to the US, and most importantly, the genocide of the Jews & other peoples It‘s extraordinarily hard to wrap one‘s mind around such evil. 3mo
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Librarybelle
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5. Do you agree with the author‘s decision to fictionalize elements of the story she discovered about Father Stocco and San Zenone? Or would you have preferred a novel set in the real San Zenone instead? ~from reading discussion guide #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

kspenmoll Her decision to fictionalize this part of the book, character & setting worked for me. 3mo
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Librarybelle
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4. Jennifer has said that when she first outlined the book, she was certain that Nico would die in the scene in the piazza. Only later did she change her mind — and then it took her weeks of research to find a plausible way for him to survive. Would you have liked a version of Our Darkest Night in which Nico died? Or did you need that happy ending? ~ from reading discussion guide #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

kspenmoll I liked the ending too much to have Nico truly die. 3mo
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Librarybelle
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3. Nina herself is a fictional character, but Robson bases her experiences on real life individuals. One in particular mentioned in Robson's article is Pierra Sonnino. More about Pierra's story and her book: https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/this-has-happened-an-italian-family-in-au...

What do you think of Nina? How does she grow throughout the novel? What is her will to survive? #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

kspenmoll Nina grew tremendously over time in this novel.she started out as an educated city girl who ended up up participating in farm life, which was a struggle for her initially body & soul. She was strong,supported by her love of her family, knowing her dad wanted this. She built relationships with all Nico‘s family,even eventually the combative, unwelcoming Rosa. When zwerger tested with both emotional and physical violence. She stood strong. 3mo
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Librarybelle
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2. Some book editions have a copy of Robson's article she wrote in 2020, detailing her journey to this book. There is a familial connection. If your edition did not have the article, here is a link to it: https://hforhistory.co.uk/h-for-history-posts/2021/01/06/defeating-the-silence-b...

Now to the book...think about Father Bernardi and Nico. Why did they put themselves and their town and family in danger? #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

Jerdencon I love that this is based on a true story.

I think Father Bernardi and Nico were like many who realized what was happening was so wrong and wanted to do their own part to help.
3mo
kspenmoll I always wonder what I might do if I had bern faced with such decisions. I might just be a coward. I think there were others like Fr B & N who could not just stand by- it‘s not in their character. 3mo
kspenmoll I love the author‘s story- to think she delved into it because of her child‘s question 3mo
tpixie I think towards the end of the novel when A expressed to Nico that helping her put his family at risk, he said he “HAD” to help. Thank goodness there are people like Father Bernardi and Nico, who are willing to help! Thanks for the link. I listened to the audio. That‘s one reason I don‘t like the audio - is because you lose all that author and book information at the back of the book. 3mo
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Librarybelle
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1. Before reading this novel, how much did you know about the struggles faced by Italian Jewish population during World War II?

This book is based on a true story - we'll get to that in a follow up question. But first, take a look at this information from the World Holocaust Remembrance Center: https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/stories/italy-background-history.html

#LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead

Jerdencon I didn't really know much - I always knew that Italy and Germany were somewhat aligned but never really heard much about what happened to the Jewish population in Italy. Made this book very interesting to read. 3mo
BookNAround I‘d read Mary Doria Russell‘s book Thread of Grace so I had a decent background already. 3mo
kspenmoll I knew that Italian Jews were deported, but I did not know anything in depth, and despite the fact that this novel was historical fiction, it gave me a good portrait of what life might‘ve been like for some people there and resources to continue expanding my knowledge 3mo
tpixie I didn‘t know much about the Italian Jewish population. This provided a good look into their plight. 3mo
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LitsyEvents
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Repost for @Librarybelle

I meant to post the reminder yesterday, but it got lost in my migraine day. So…here‘s a quick reminder that tomorrow is our discussion of this month‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead ! I will post questions under spoilers tomorrow, and feel free to respond whenever!

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Librarybelle
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I meant to post the reminder yesterday, but it got lost in my migraine day. So…here‘s a quick reminder that tomorrow is our discussion of this month‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead ! I will post questions under spoilers tomorrow, and feel free to respond whenever!

CatLass007 Wow, I‘m so sorry you had a migraine yesterday. Do you have them very often? I do and I hate how they make it so difficult to plan anything. I‘m glad you feel better today. 3mo
Librarybelle @CatLass007 Aren‘t they terrible? I had them more frequently before I left my job due to stress. But, the barometric pressure also affects me, and yesterday was extremely windy with temps dropping. Thanks for the well wishes! 3mo
CatLass007 I‘ve never noticed that the barometric pressure affects my migraines. I do know that I can‘t use artificial sweeteners at all. It‘s weird, my Mom had chronic migraines but they stopped when she had a hysterectomy. I was waiting for menopause to end the migraines but that never happened. My neurologist and I started Botox injections as a preventative measure, so I‘m hoping that will start to help soon. 3mo
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Librarybelle @CatLass007 I hope so too for your sake! 3mo
CatLass007 I hope you‘re able to work with your doctor to find something that works for you. Treating a migraine once it starts is okay but that still causes me to lose a day. I‘d much rather prevent them altogether. 3mo
tpixie @CatLass007 @Librarybelle ( go away migraines!). I‘m enjoying this book! I started a little late on the book so I will eventually join the convo! 3mo
CatLass007 @tpixie Thank you. (edited) 3mo
Librarybelle Sounds good, @tpixie ! 😁 3mo
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kspenmoll
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Pickpick

I was so captivated while reading this book, I could not put it down,finishing it in 1 day.It‘s setting is 1944 Venice,& in a small farming village in the north.Antonia Mazen, a young Jewish Venetian woman, is at the farm under the pretense of being the newly married wife of it‘s Catholic farmer.Eventually she learns to blend in with her “husband” & his family.
While this novel is written in the POV of Antonia,her life & & experiences 🔽

kspenmoll During WWII, her character stands for all Italian Jewish women who suffered through the war. #librarycrew #historicalfiction #November2023 3mo
tpixie I‘m really enjoying it as well! 3mo
kspenmoll The author mentioned this video in her section on resources , a documentary of interviews with Italian survivors of the Holocaust. My husband & plan to watch it, as he is of Italian heritage. https://youtu.be/j_RBlqfvGlk?si=70D8-o7CJDTEYbXz (edited) 3mo
Librarybelle So glad you enjoyed it! 3mo
tpixie @kspenmoll ooo thanks for the link! 3mo
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tpixie
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It‘s nice reading about a different country during WWII.

Another good Italian book that spans WWI & WWII Italy is Under the Light of the Italian Moon
#BuddyRead #LiteraryCrew

Librarybelle Thanks for posting about this! 3mo
tpixie @Librarybelle yes! 🇮🇹 3mo
Gissy I like the photo👌 3mo
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tpixie @Gissy thanks!!! 😊 3mo
kspenmoll Thanks for your book recommendation. I loved this read for a myriad of reasons. 3mo
tpixie @kspenmoll I‘m only 1/4 done, but so far it‘s a well- told story! Next I want to read a book about all the displaced Jewish children. Who do they belong to after the war? The Catholic & Protestant homes that took them in? Or back to some one of the Jewish faith? 3mo
tpixie @Librarybelle @kspenmoll I should clarify- they are not Jewish Italian women, but strong Italian women… 3mo
Librarybelle 👍 3mo
55 likes8 comments
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kspenmoll
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#humbleharvest #tea #day25
My husband makes up tea about 4 pm daily with his much loved electric kettle.
I am enjoying this book-historical fiction about a young Jewish woman who leaves her parents behind in Venice & moves far away, pretending to be a Catholic farmer‘s wife. I know little of the Jewish experience in Mussolini‘s Italy compared to Hitler‘s. #literarycrew #November2023
Thanks to Jess for hosting this the last few years!

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Beautiful 🫖 3mo
dabbe Are those molasses cookies? #yum! 🩵🩶🩵 3mo
Librarybelle So glad you‘re enjoying this so far! ❤️ 3mo
Eggs Tea Time ☕️🧡🫖 3mo
tpixie Great photo! I‘m enjoying this book also! 3mo
67 likes5 comments
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tpixie
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Librarybelle 😁 3mo
54 likes1 comment
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kspenmoll
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A little late…
Anna- next section #sundaybuddyread
Our Darkest Hour- #literarycrew-starting
Happiness- #audio
Her Lost Words - continue, hope to finish
Railway-#DetectiveInspectorColbeckMystery - finish
Three Mothers-#nonfiction
#NovelNovember #readsthon

Librarybelle Hooray!! 3mo
51 likes1 comment
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CatLass007
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Pickpick

I don‘t think I realized how many Italians were Jewish until I began this book. I‘m trying to figure out what that says about me. Any book about Jews in World War II is going to be sad and will refer to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis. The main character comes very close to despair on different occasions, but manages to remain hopeful in spite of the horrific events she experiences. #LiteraryCrew

Librarybelle I think this will make a good discussion! 3mo
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Librarybelle
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We‘re 2 weeks away from this month‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead ! Any comments or things to share so far?

If you have not had a chance to vote yet for next year‘s reading order, don‘t forget to fill out the Google Form! I‘ll post the link in the comments.

Librarybelle https://forms.gle/x6ebp7tQkrzA9fTm8

Voting will be open through Thursday, November 23rd!
3mo
CatLass007 I only just started listening to the audiobook. 3mo
Jerdencon I actually finished this one already! 3mo
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Librarybelle @CatLass007 @Jerdencon I got my copy from the library and need to start it! 3mo
kspenmoll I plan to start this weekend 3mo
julieclair Thanks for the reminder to vote. Oh my goodness, they all look SO good! It was a hard choice. 3mo
Librarybelle @julieclair So many good suggestions! At least we will be able to read all of them, but this voting will help determine the order. Looking forward to another fun round of reading! 3mo
julieclair @Librarybelle It will be a great reading year! Thank you so much for hosting. These books are always among the best I read each month, and often are ones I might not have discovered on my own. 💙 3mo
48 likes9 comments
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LitsyEvents
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Librarybelle Thanks for reposting! 4mo
29 likes1 comment
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melissajayne
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My #bookspinbingo list for November

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 4mo
16 likes1 comment
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Librarybelle
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New month, so our new title for #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead . I‘ll post periodic checkins throughout the month, and our discussion will be November 30th!

If anyone else would like to be tagged this month, just let me know!

tpixie I‘d like to be tagged. I hope I‘ll be able to participate. This has been on my TBR list. Please & Thanks 4mo
Librarybelle Will do, @tpixie ! 4mo
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AllDebooks Tag me please x 4mo
Librarybelle Got you on the list, @AllDebooks ! Hooray! 4mo
julieclair I‘m sure this will generate some excellent discussion topics. 4mo
40 likes7 comments
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LitsyEvents
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Repost for @Librarybelle

November‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead is the tagged by Jennifer Robson. This is a low key buddy read - read at your own pace, and discussion will be on November 30th.

Tagging those who have already expressed interest in reading this one, but all are welcome! If you would also like to be tagged, comment on their page!

Librarybelle Thanks for reposting! 4mo
30 likes2 comments
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Librarybelle
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November‘s #LiteraryCrew #BuddyRead is the tagged by Jennifer Robson. This is a low key buddy read - read at your own pace, and discussion will be on November 30th.

Tagging those who have already expressed interest in reading this one, but all are welcome! If you would also like to be tagged, comment below!

BookNAround Oooo. Add me to this one, please! 4mo
Jerdencon I‘m in for this one too 4mo
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Librarybelle Are you able to join for this read, @BethM @PurpleyPumpkin ? 4mo
PurpleyPumpkin I‘m going to try! I‘ve placed this one on hold at my library. Hopefully I‘ll get it in time for November. 🤞🏽 4mo
39 likes7 comments
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SarahBookInterrupted
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Check out my book recommendation on Book Interrupted‘s Manuscript Monday this week. https://www.bookinterrupted.com/post/manuscript-monday-our-darkest-night

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SarahBookInterrupted
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Pickpick

I love Jennifer Robson books and this was no exception. The details she puts in her historical fiction is another reason why I keep coming back to her novels. I cried a few times while reading this book. The last quarter of the book I couldn‘t put down. I was holding on to hope just like the characters where. It wasn‘t a perfectly happy ending. How could it be when it‘s about WW2 but enough that my hope wasn‘t crushed, but restored.

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mollyrotondo
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Finally picked up my March #doublespin No. 3 book lol I enjoyed this WWII historical fiction book about an Italian Jewish woman hiding with an Italian Christian family. There aren‘t as many WWII books that take place in Italy. I recommend this one.

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
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SilversReviews
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Thanks to these Litsy folks for today‘s prompt:

#MAYMOMS
March 2022
@Eggs
@AlwaysBeenALoverOfBooks

Today‘s Prompt: HARDWORKING

I became immersed in the family‘s hardworking life and the wonder and joy of the simple life they led and their care for each other…https://tinyurl.com/bdds6jtp

@authorjenniferrobson

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks On my tbr!! 📚 2y
Eggs Stacked! 📚 2y
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LibraryCin
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Pickpick

I listened to the audio; it was done well. I rarely lost interest (which is always a risk with audio for me). I liked this. I have read plenty of WWII fiction, but in this case, I haven‘t read much set in Italy. I am waffling between 3.5 stars (good) and 4 stars (really good). I might be hesitating on the 4 stars simply due to WWII overload. Often if a book makes me cry, that will be a 4 star rating. I almost cried – one or two tears at one point

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melissajayne
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My June pick for #12booksof2021. It became my favourite read of the month because I liked that it took place in Italy during WWII and not one of the usual places (France, Poland, Germany or the UK) that WWII books tend to take place in. It also helped that it was a page turner.

kplovesbooks This sounds so good! 2y
Andrew65 Stacked this one, looks right up my street. 2y
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BookishTrish
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A trip to the bookstore to browse (and buy) followed by a trip to the cafe to snack and read #bliss

HotMessJess This is perfection 2y
LeahBergen Murchie‘s!! 😍 2y
BookishTrish Murchie‘s 💕💕💕 @LeahBergen 2y
wanderinglynn That dessert looks delicious! 😋 2y
BookishTrish @wanderinglynn It was soooo good - chocolate passion fruit cake 2y
56 likes5 comments
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Jas16
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Pickpick

I always look forward to reading Robson‘s books. Jewish Nina leaves her Venice home and goes to hide on Christian Nico‘s family farm as his new bride. Only he and the local priest know the truth as she learns to fit into her new family and community. Engrossing and emotional.

SilversReviews LOVED this book even though it was heartbreaking. 2y
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stinas_fav_books
Pickpick

This book was everything! Enlightening, full of history, suspense, love, loss, courage, hope, faith, etc...The dedication and strength that each character had shown through in every situation. A true historical page-turner that left me breathless.

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melissajayne
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Pickpick

4.5⭐️ I really liked the book and that the author stuck with one point of view rather than the duel POV of The Gown, which I also enjoyed. I also liked that it didn‘t feel trite and that she used a different aspect of the #holocaust, one that should be explored more in #wwii novels. The author‘s note was really helpful. #2021 #bookstagram #bookreview #fiction #historicalfiction #readingeurope #Italy 🇮🇹 #bookspinbingo #readingeurope2021

SilversReviews LOVED this book. 3y
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GirlWellRead
Pickpick
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Aims42
Pickpick

A great read!! Jennifer Robson does such a fantastic job writing such real characters 😊 I definitely recommend to all WWII historical fiction fans, especially because this story takes place in Italy and provides a different perspective

CoverToCoverGirl Waiting for this to come from the library. 3y
Aims42 @CoverToCoverGirl it‘s so good! I borrowed my copy from the library 👍🏻 It‘ll be going back tomorrow for the next reader 😍 3y
23 likes2 comments
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JenReadsAlot
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#bookmail thanks to @peaknit for my birthday gift card 😊

peaKnit Haha! I mean shoot. I literally finished this today...to pass on to you. 🤦🏼‍♀️ 3y
JenReadsAlot @peaknit Too funny! 3y
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ReadingisMyPassion
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Pickpick

An immensely powerful read! With so many WWII books being published, I look for something a bit different. This one was set in Italy instead of the usual Germany, France, or Poland. Part of what made this book really special is that during a visit to Ms. Robson‘s husband‘s family she discovered that his family had actually helped saved people who would otherwise have been sent to concentration camps and probably would have died there.

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BilboBookends
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“When she opened her eyes again he was gone, and all she could recall was the lingering memory that once, not so long ago, not so very far away, she had been loved.”

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MartinaLove
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Pickpick

5/5 ⭐
Such a beautiful and heartbroken story.
From the first page to the last, this story had my full attention. A story that I will carry with me for a long time.

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SassyBookworm
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Pickpick

Jennifer Robson gives you ALL the feels with this book! I absolutely devoured this book! It was just all around a great story with a very satisfying ending! You couldn‘t help but love Nina and she pulled on your heart strings with all she went through. One of my favorite books so far this year!

#SassyBookworm😏 #OurDarkestNight #HistoricalFiction #Libby

ReadingisMyPassion Eager to read this one. 3y
SassyBookworm @ReadingisMyPassion it‘s soooo good!! I hope you love it!!! 3y
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BookNAround
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About to dive into this one.

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SassyBookworm
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I love adding books to our libraries ebook collection!! Can‘t wait til this one comes in!!! Give me ALL the FREE books!!! 😍🤓📚

#SassyBookworm😏 #Libby #Library #Ebooks #HistoricalFiction #OurDarkestNight

GingerAntics SWEET!!! 3y
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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

A women hides from nazis by pretending to be married to a stranger.

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