Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Port of No Return” as Want to Read:
Port of No Return
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Port of No Return

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy. By the end of the day, however, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, kn
Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published July 31st 2015 by Odyssey Books (first published July 15th 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Port of No Return, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Port of No Return

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  61 ratings  ·  39 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Port of No Return
Holly  B

I’m always drawn to novels set during World War II. This one begins in occupied Italy in 1944. I thought I’d sit down and read a few chapters and ended up reading over half the book and finished it the next day.

The story focuses on a family that struggles to rebuild their lives after the war. The author created characters that felt authentic and she made me care about them. Contessa and Ettore have young children and when their apartment is bombed, they find themselves displaced. I could feel t
Cold War Conversations Podcast
Powerful story of little known ethnic cleansing of Italians at the end of World War 2.

Michelle Saftich has put together a moving story of a family uprooted and torn apart by the convulsions that Europe experienced at the end of World War 2. The book is set in Istria which had an approximately 40% Italian population and was given to the Italy after World War 1. Based on her father’s recollections she portrays a little known part of the war whereby Italians were forcibly removed by the Yugoslavs.
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-fiction
**I was provided with an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review**

Port of No Return opens in January, 1944 in Fiume, Italy. At this time Fiume sits on the border with Yugoslavia. The Germans are still in Fiume, but the Yugoslavs under Tito are on their way. (There have been long territorial disputes over Fiume throughout history.) The taking of Fiume by the Yugoslavs was the result of days of heavy fighting. Reprisals under the occupying forces were savage.

Initially we meet Contessa and Ettor
Lara Maynard
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lara by: Amy Bruno
“Port of No Return” is one of those novels that keeps you reading into the small hours, worrying over the fate of characters. There are moments of terror and of grace. There is inhumanity and bravery and friendship, and much to contemplate. It made me think about people who were on the “wrong” side of WWII. It prompted me to look up information about the migration and expulsion of Italians from Yugoslav territory around WWII. It is both a war story and a prelude to an immigration story. And it c ...more
Italo Italophiles
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This heartfelt historical novel recounts events during World War II in the northeastern Italian city of Fiume, which is now part of Croatia. By following the ripples of those events through the members of two extended families and various others across northern Italy and then further north, the reader gets a feeling for what life in a war zone was/is really like.

The book recounts scenes that, sadly, play themselves out every day somewhere in the world in war zones: displacing people from their h
Lately I have been continuing on a quest to read more from Australian authors - there is a talent in that country that doesn't always reach Canada. Thank you to Italy Books Tours for allowing me to be part of this tour and introducing me to Australian author Michelle Saftich.

Port of No Return begins in January 1944 in Fuime, Italy, a small town close to the Yugoslavia border. Told from various pov's the author wrote a gripping story of survival, filled with courage and fear, struggle and heartac
Isobel Blackthorn
There are stories that need to be told, stories sidelined, destined to languish on the periphery of our knowledge of history, stories eclipsed by bigger, more sensational stories. Until an author like Michelle Saftich comes along.
Port of No Return is a work of historical fiction, set at the end of WWII, which tracks the stories of four families as they flee their war-ravaged city of Fuime, Northern Italy, for the refugee camps in nearby Trieste, as communist Yugoslavia, under the command of Gene
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I didn't find this book an easy read but I did find it absorbing. It was an angle of the Second World War that I wasn't aware of and it was shocking to think what people had been through at that time. Having said that, the families were very engaging and I really care about what happened to them. ...more
Contessa and Ettore Saforo are a happily married couple with a large family, nice home, and a business. However one day that all changed. During the war, their town is bombed and while they survived the bombing through their refuge of shelter, they find their house in ruins and with nothing but the clothes on their back. They stay with their friend, who greatly welcomes them in. Their happiness is short-lived for it is revealed that Etorre has worked for the Germans causing him to run for life. ...more
Angela (Books of a Shy Girl)
You can find more reviews on my blog: Books of a Shy Girl.

Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich is a historical fiction novel set during World War II. The story follows Contessa and Ettore Saforo’s family and friends in their journey to a better place, away from the dangerous city of Fiume.

I highly enjoyed this novel and I have only two things in this book I’d like to point out: a few things seemed too convenient to be passed off as mere coincidences and the ending was a bit anticlimactic. Howev
Helen Hollick
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:

Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs

"The author shows considerable skill incorporating a much-needed history lesson on this obscure corner of the war, weaving in her research both in secondary sources and first-hand accounts from her father and others who experienced the purge of the Italian populations from this coastal area after the war. "
Heather Pearson
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the moving story of several Italian families from Fiume, a port city in the north east of Italy. Set during World War Two, one of the fathers, Ettore Saforo, had been forced to work for the occupying Germans, as were many people at that time. The city had been bombed numerous times and was devastated, both physically and morally. His family was left homeless while he tried to evade arrest by the invading Yugoslavian army.

This was the plight of hundreds of thousands of families across Eur
Jalynn Patterson

About the Book:
Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy.

By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself on a list for execution and running for his life. His wife and children must also flee.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to stories set during World War II, I am always more interested in those that focus on the plight of the civilians rather than the military experience. This is why I was drawn to this novel as it reflects some of what my own family experienced before my parents immigrated to Canada. The story is set in the north east area of Italy in a city named Fiume which became part of Yugoslavia, or today's Croatia. Through the experiences of two families, the author does a great job of introd ...more
Debra Schoenberger
Port of No Return is the author's father's story about their family's struggle to flee their beloved city of Fiume, Italy. Historical in nature, Michelle's book acknowledges the hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced throughout Europe during WWII, and that many Italians were forcibily removed by the Yugoslavs.

Ettore and Contessa, along with Nonna and their young children must survive hardships and food rationing during the German occupation of their town, Fiume. Partisan rebels add v
Heather Jones
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Port of No Return is the story of a family on the run during the war-torn years of WWII. Contessa and Ettore Saforo have a young family and the comforts of home are quickly destroyed during a bombing in their town of Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia). There home is destroyed but with their family intact they flee to Trieste, Italy. They are not able to stay together for long when Ettore must run for his life and Contessa must run with her children in hopes of reuniting with her beloved husband again.

Clive Dickinson
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent and very topical novel. It details the extreme hardships that people living in North Eastern Italy endured, not only during WWII, but in the immediate aftermath of that tragedy. It is well written in graphic, but compassionate expression and excellent style - simple and descriptive without being verbose.

Michelle develops the characters with obvious compassion and self-evident intimate knowledge of the history which descended on this region. She paints the scene well and expl
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was provided with a copy in exchange for a honest review. I rate it 4.5 stars

This historical fiction depicts one of the end and post WWII little known tragedy in the north east Italy - Yugoslavia border.
Like most people during WWII, Ettore and Contessa try to survive in Fiume, a town occupied by Germans and work wherever necessary to feed their growing family. One day their house is bombed and they have to leave their hometown and seek shelter at friends. This is the beginning of their ordeal
Polly Krize
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

World-changing events in World War II Italy form the basis of this sensitively-written novel. Even when the war ends, northern Italy is threatened by Tito and the Yugoslavs wanting the territory, which forces Ettore and Contessa to consider leaving their beloved country. This story of displaced persons and the countries who would or would not take them in is based on Ms. Saftich's personal history and her attention to detail is acut
Eileen Hall
A story of families living in a German occupied village in Northern Italy in 1944.
It is overrun with partisans from neighbouring Yugoslavia who are hunting for German soldiers and anyone who is deemed to be collaborating with them.
One family in particular. Contessa and Ettore Saforo are split up when Ettore runs away in fear of his life as he is working for the army as a mechanic.
His wife also escapes along with their children and they becomes displaced persons.
The story centres on the attempts
Ron Camp
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This story takes place in Italy during the end of WWII. You follow 3 families thru a journey to reclaim their lives. They have lost everything including family members. The story holds your interest and keeps you turning page to find out how each family member will do and what the outcome will be for them.
This is a book worth reading..
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
Good story about Italians at the end of World War II and after.Running away from the Yugoslav army ready to kill them for helping the Germans.At last after many years staying in refugee camps with very minimum food and other necessities they finally board the ship going to Australia ,full of hope for better life.Great book to read...really liked it.
Kathleen Gray
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
what a well done saga of world war II! I enjoyed this novel and its characters. Thanks NETGALLEY for the chance to read it!
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scaned-books
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed it.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fiume, now Rijeka in Croatia, was once a port city in north east Italy and was occupied by the Germans during World War II. Many of the locals were forced to work for the Germans, something that was not looked upon favourably by the Yugoslav Army when they took back the city. Reprisals were brutal forcing many of the inhabitants to flee for their lives. The Saforos are one such family, and we follow them as they make their escape and become refugees while the war rages around them. It’s a compel ...more
Elaine Tucker
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book about after the war is over and what follows. Port of No Return, by Michelle Saftich. It was bad in Europe, a lot of damage from bombs, peoples homes simply disappeared when a bomb dropped from the sky. These people were called DP's, Displaced People. There were places where these people could go for shelter and be fed. How would you like to share space with only a blanket hung up giving you some privacy. This is the way it was in this real life story for many. Just enough food ...more
Apr 12, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very quick read, set in an area of Northern Italy I was not to familiar with, although I have heard of the Port to Trieste,
A story regarding displaced people but seemed more focused on the Italian family aspects and feelings for their home country, rather than the history of the time or the story of migration.
Writing style very simplistic, hence a quick read for me - but nothing really pulled me in.
Teaser Addicts  Book Blog/ PR
A very good accurate historical novel that will break your heart and hold it until the end.

I Received This Book Against An Honest Review

Annie, Teaser Addicts Book Blog

My Own Stars Ratings

1☆- Sorry This Was NOT For Me
2☆- Could Of Been Something Good
3☆- Good Enough For More
4☆- WHAT was THAT
5☆- LOVED- A Masterpiece For Me
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absorbing read. I previously knew little of this history, although knew many Italians did emigrate to Australia after the WW2. I hope there is a sequel. Feel I know these characters and would like to read more of their story.
Barbara Rindge
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction novels about Italy during World War II always seem to fascinate me – probably because the stories hit pretty close to home since my parents lived through this horrible time in Italy. Neither one of my parents, though, remembers it as being really terrible – I guess they were the lucky ones. But after reading several accounts of the atrocities that occurred in Italy, I am devastated to learn that so many innocent people lost their lives – and if they survived, they lived throug ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Words in My Hand
  • Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949
  • The Wife of Martin Guerre
  • Joyland
  • The Crucible
  • The Lieutenant
  • The Dressmaker
  • Per questo mi chiamo Giovanni
  • Volevo i pantaloni
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • It
  • The Gunslinger
  • Elevation
See similar books…
Michelle Saftich is an Australian author who enjoys writing historical fiction and science fiction. She writes about migration, people's ability to adapt to changing environments and in her latest novel, The Hatch, she explores the pros and cons of having a sixth sense.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology

News & Interviews

Believe it or not, we're halfway through 2021! As is our tradition, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial team burrows into our data to...
37 likes · 18 comments