Scott's Reviews > Love and War in the Apennines

Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby
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's review
Jan 09, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 1970s, walks, war, ww2, hills
Read from December 22 to 28, 2011

Love and War in the Apennines (1971) was a perfect holiday read. An adventurous tale of escape and romance set during the collapse of Fascist Italy, the book is a monument to sacrifice, courage, and gratitude.

In 1942, Eric Newby (A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, Slowly Down the Ganges) was captured in a botched attempt to raid a Sicilian airfield from the sea. He spent much of the Second World War in prison camps, first in Italy and later in Czechoslovakia. But in the autumn of 1943, he enjoyed a few months of freedom when he escaped to the high villages of the Apennines. There he found hearty and generous Italian farmers who were willing to risk everything to give him refuge.

Like Patrick Leigh Fermor's memoirs of his long walk across central Europe, Newby's recollections of his evasive tramp through rural Italy is charming, vivid, and softened considerably by the thirty years that passed between when the events occurred and when Newby recorded them. Several of the characters are pastiches of people he met, but others, like the half-mad Icarus who dwelt in a remote dale, are simply too peculiar to have been the result of literary tinkering. And Wanda Newby appears in her full glory – courageous, intelligent, and lovely.

Newby can be very funny: parts of A Short Walk had me rolling off the couch onto the floor. But Love and War was written not so much to entertain an Anglo-American audience as to thank the many Italians, who moved by kindness and decency, ignored their own safety and convenience to save this wounded, babbling foreigner, who a few months before had landed on their shores, intent on doing them considerable damage. Newby does, of course, fall in love and eventually marry one of them, but the book is not so much a record of that affair as it is a testament of his well deserved love for Italy.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Patricia Let's look for A Small House in Italy.

Scott As long as it's close the mountains and at least flirts with indoor plumbing, I'm game!

message 3: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Another wonderful review. I would definitely follow you, but I see you haven't written any reviews for a long time now, so fear you may have lost interest in Goodreads...

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