"Deeply moving. . . . Joanna Scott brilliantly captures war as seen through the innocence of a child." -Bookpage
Adriana Nardi is only 10 years old when Allied forces occupy her lush island home during World War II, plaguing the quiet Italian village with violence and uncertainty. Amdu is a Senegalese soldier who abandons his comrades and befriends Adriana after witnessing an unspeakable act that has far-reaching repercussions.
Decades later, on a commuter train bound for Penn Station, 60-year-old Adriana revisits her memories of the war and her doomed relationship with Amdu, even as a present crisis threatens her life.
The morning after her 70th birthday party, attended by her dutiful husband and children, Adriana Rundel takes a commuter train from suburban New Jersey to Manhattan, and becomes lost in memories of her WWII girlhood [...] in hiding on the Italian isle of Elba. Stealing glances from her hideout in the cupboard, she finds her first love, a young AWOL Senegalese soldier named Amdu Diop, who takes refuge in her family's home during the Allied push toward liberation. He is 17; she is 10. Theirs is an innocent infatuation rather than an intense affair, but that seems to be precisely what Scott (The Manikin) is after: "The truth was she liked Amdu because he was perfectly alive.... She just felt it, the way she felt the warmth of the sun." Their attachment is lovely, but doesn't provide much dramatic lift. And the heart attack Adriana suffers on the train ride into the city, which intermingles her childhood panic with her later-life mortal fear, is less a plot device than a means for integrating the vivid past with the dull present. Still, Scott accomplishes large shifts in time and perspective with grace, and delivers an affecting, unsentimental portrait of a survivor taking stock of her life and loves.
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Back Bay Books
November 07, 2005
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