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Once Night Falls

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,203 ratings  ·  96 reviews
A harrowing historical novel of the extraordinary acts of ordinary people in Nazi-occupied Italy.

Italy, 1943. Luca Benedetto has joined the partisans in their fight against the German troops ravaging the shores of his town on Lake Como. While risking his life to free his country, Luca is also struggling to protect Sarah, his Jewish lover who’s hiding in a mountain cabin.
Paperback, 366 pages
Published December 1st 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  2,203 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Why did pain exist? Why did evil exist? Why had God allowed men like Hitler and Mussolini to come to power?”

Beginning with the reprisal killings at Piazzale Loreto, the story goes through Italy's political and militaristic transitions during Mussolini's dethronement by the king starting with Mussolini's banishment/hiding at La Maddalena. It has graphic moments and incorporates a fair amount of history. It recounts the Nazi's invasion of Italy (though brief) and describes the implementation of
David Baker
Good read but definitely three stars

I've read few novels which are so very definitely three stars. It's a good read, but it's not outstanding and nor, on the other hand, is it terrible. The cast of characters is a little too large. The chapters are rather too short. Thus while one has the sense of a reasonably good story it is hard to engage with the characters and they remain oddly elusive. Nonethe3, an enjoyable book.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Roland Merullo, whether it is a novel, travel story - whatever. So I was very excited to see that he had written this book, and even more excited to receive it from Amazon First Reads. This is a truly amazing book that tells such a compelling story - even those parts that are really hard to read and harder to accept that they actually happened. This is so clearly good versus evil and you want those people that are good to overcome what has been thrust on them, knowing that it ...more
Lou Sills
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I literally could not put this book down. I rarely get the sense or pressure or edge of your seat that one feels in a well-done action movie but this story had me racing. First of all I am a sucker for multiple story lines and secondly being able to see and feel these characters is such a reward. The sense that in war you can't trust your shadow is handled quite nicely.
Bonnye Reed
Amazon First Reads November 2019
pub date Dec 1, 2019
rec Dec 3, 2019
Lake Union Publishing
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
You never know what you're going to get from an Amazon Prime first book, but this was one of the better ones.

I've read many WWII stories over the years, but not more than two or three based in Italy, so the setting was something a little different--a plus. The writing was good, not great literature, but good. The character development was decent for the Italian characters; the German ones were simply thugs, symbols of evil.

I liked the format's structure: short chapters toggling back and forth
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
“Once Night Falls” by Roland Merullo is a heartfelt novel about a people who find themselves living in a country where darkness has fallen. The sun still rises each morning and daily life goes on, but the oppressive dark is everywhere in a small Italian village that suffers the yoke of fascism in the uniforms of the Italian blackshirts and the the German army.
The village is in the north of Italy, near Lake Como. It is a beautiful spot where people lived off the bountiful land, loved , gossiped
Paul Manytravels
Once Night Falls by Roland Merullo once again demonstrates the skill of a talented writer to create a highly engaging fictional story to surround some actual non-fiction. In several of his books, the non-fiction has concerned spirituality, but in this book a wonderful suspense story surrounded the actual events of the last days of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Author Merullo speculates what it would have been like to be a freedom fighter working to end Mussolini’s rule and to throw off the ...more
Marcy Heller
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have often told myself that I've read too many WWII novels, that most of the stories have already been told, but then, along comes another book that keeps me up at night so I can finish it, and sends me to research another aspect of the war.

When I lived in Europe, I often looked around at people and wondered what their stories were--for everyone of a certain age has a story. The people I looked upon all were or had parents who were either victims or complicit, and every single one of them was
John DeSimone
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once Night Falls is set in a small town in northern Italy during the German occupation of 1943. The war is going poorly for Il Duce and the otherwise ineffectual King Immanuel arrests the Fascist leader and sends him into exile. From that setup, the author introduces a series of characters in single chapters that take us into the inner workings of a partisan cell, a priest connected to the partisans, a Roman businessman whose main commodity is information, and then deep into the hills to meet ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely amazing! I don't normally read historical fiction, but I'm so very glad I came across this one.

The basics:
-This story is set in Italy in WWII, and features many characters whose tales weave together as the story progresses. -Unlike in many WWII books, the book talks more about Mussolini than Hitler (who I really enjoyed learning more about, as I only knew the basics about him).
-The book is told from many different character viewpoints, each of whom have very different
charles montgomery
Love WWII novels.

Specially those about spies, resistance in all theaters, commandos, and such. This one fills the bill. A best friend of my dad was an infantry private whose battalion was trapped by the Germans North of the Po river in the winter of 1943 or 1944. His commanding officer gave all his men the choice of surrender or swim the ice filled Po . He was telling me some of his many war stories in the 50's. I was 10 or 12 at the time and asked him, Weren't you afraid to jump into that
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joan Buell
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written historical novel, about every-day heroic people in Northern Italy during WWII. The author leads the reader to a greater understanding of the impact Hitler and Mussolini had on the daily lives and relationships of humble people. The story is a bit hard to follow at first, as the first seven or eight chapters are about seven or eight different people, and I found that a little disorienting. But the characters are well-drawn and the reader quickly cares about them. There is ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful

Being of Italian heritage, I was only vaguely familiar with Mussolini. I remember an elderly Italian immigrant neighbor who praised Mussolini & how good it was under him. My father would sarcastically ask him why he didn't just go back to Italy if it was better there. I now understand my father's sarcasm. This is a well written book. For me it filled a historical gap in my knowledge of WWII in Italy & what the people went through at the hands of power
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly written

I have always been confused by Italy’s role in WWII, but I now feel I have a better sense of the political struggle.

I love learning how a story came to be almost as much as the story itself. And this is no different. What we thought we knew and what really happened are not always the same. This author took that inaccuracy and, through immense research, brought to life a story few understood.

I’ve found I love how this author’s writing style and dedication to facts, mixed
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii-italy
I got my copy of this book through NetGalley but then discovered it had already been released and is available through Kindle Unlimited.
This is not my first book describing what the citizens of Italy experienced during World War II, but it did spend a healthy amount of time studying Mussolini, his treatment by the King and Nazis, along with the populace wondering where he was and what would happen next. There was a core group of characters to follow through the many pages, thank goodness, but
Toni Yates
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. Having vacationed in the Lakes region of northern Italy and into Switzerland, I was very interested to read this and thought the location descriptions were spot-on. I appreciated the historical aspects of this book particularly in regards to Mussolini who I knew little about other then being a WWII "bad guy." I felt the characters were believable in their humanity. It is seldom that I feel I can't put a book down but this was one of those times and I found myself wondering what ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Once Night Falls is a good book. It is well plotted and we'll written. It takes historical fiction on an imaginative journey that I have rarely read before. But it is long, really long. Usually this is not an issue for me but Merullo uses so many different POVs that it is difficult to keep the web from unravelling. It is also spotted with unnecessary chapters that added to my boredom. It felt consistent in the end, but I honestly put it down and picked it back up too often to tell for certain.
Mrs. Moira McGeough
I must admit I was predisposed to like this book because I have always felt the Italians got a bad rap after the war. Yes, Mussolini joined with Hitler in his mad vision of a facist governed empire, but there were so many examples of heroic resistance by Italians from all walks of life, that have been little written about. Some of the characters were under developed but the story moved along at a good pace and kept you engaged. The purely historical facts were correct as far my knowledge, ...more
This was a good book. Not great, but good. I say that because the author spent too much time filling up space with the thoughts and memories of some of the characters. The book is mostly action- based and that's what I wanted to read--the stuff that keeps me up til 2am not wanting to put the book down. But, then it would drift off into someone's thoughts, wishes, and regrets. It's true, some of that is required in order for us to fully know a characters backstory. But then it can get to be ...more
Fred Shaw
As a historical fiction novel of WW II in Italy, there is good material to peruse. To say that it is a typical novel with highly developed plot, characters, interwoven into a mosaic of scenery, it is not. I found this book to be enlightening but did not meet my expectations. The period in history covered is Mussolini’s topple from power, Nazi infiltration in Northern Italy and the American invasion of Sicily and Salerno.
Tertia R Armstrong
Mussolini Must Die

A view of the end of the Fascist regime in Italy. An eye opener for me. Views from supporters, resistance fighters, German soldiers, the clergy, a Jewish family, and innocent people caught in the cross hairs of the war. Moving character development complete with the hopes and dreams for the future , whether for a new order or return to the simplicity of life in post-war Italy.
D. Jane Akins
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slow to develop

But worth reading for the story. I’ve read books about WWII in Germany and in England but this is the first I’ve read about Italy. No matter where, it was a cruel, cruel time for everyone everywhere and this book tells the story well through the eyes of many characters, which sometimes made it hard to keep them sorted out. It took me longer to read than most books but i had to finish it.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike most of the other WWII books you will pick up, this one is set in Italy. It is well written with an interesting format. The chapters are short, and switch back and forth between key characters. This enhances the storyline and makes it easy to follow each character. By then end of this book the reader will have a better understanding of how the average person's life was impacted by Mussolini and Hitler, and you will have enjoyed your journey of discovery.
Susan Coventry
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once Night Falls is a historical fiction account of the fall of Mussolini in WWII Italy. At the heart of the story is a resistance fighter, his family, and his Jewish lover who he is desperately trying to protect. Action-packed, intense, and tragic, this story will keep you turning the pages right until the end.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once Night Falls is excellent read

At first, being introduced to so many different characters with every new chapter was a bit confusing. But, the story unfolds with interesting rhythm including a cliffhanger at each chapter’s end that kept this reader Engrossed, particularly since Mussolini was one of the characters.
Eve Schell
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must Read In Our Turbulent Times

This book was very insightful and through a novel I learned much. The writing was elegant and precise. Never redundant but each word and sentence contributing to the story as well as character development. Engaging with the characters as I turned each page. Wanting them to survive. A page turner definitely but so much more. A must read!
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Italians

I never understood how much resistance and sacrifice Italians made during W W ll until I read this book. I have appreciated their food, wine and character all my life but my heart feels uplifted to feel their heroic character displayed in this novel. Thanks so much for giving this to me.

Ezra Haggard

Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look into W WII Italy.

Takes the reader into a region of Northern Italy and the reasons for the dangerous resistance of the Italian people to the cruelty and impoverishment they suffered. As a child I knew two of these brave people from another region of Italy and wanted to know more of these heroes.
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ROLAND MERULLO is an awarding-winning author of 24 books including 17 works of fiction: Breakfast with Buddha, a nominee for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, now in its 20th printing; The Talk-Funny Girl, a 2012 ALEX Award Winner and named a "Must Read" by the Massachusetts Library Association and the Massachusetts Center for the Book; Vatican Waltz named one of the Best Books of ...more
“Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day. —Benito Mussolini Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry. —Winston Churchill” 0 likes
“Time wore all of them down, administered harsh lessons in humility to even the finest physical specimens.” 0 likes
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