The Way Back to Florence The Way Back to Florence discussion

Angela, Esil and Diane discuss.

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message 1: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Looking forward to this our next read.

Angela M I'm looking forward to it also . I looked to see where would be good stopping points for commenting. It's fairly long , 492 pages. Looks like it's divided into 4 parts but the last part is pretty short . Do you think we should go with the parts or do we want to split the parts by chapters? Whatever works for you two is fine with me . You know I usually read one book at a time but I'm starting a short story collection to read along with it .

message 3: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ What about we check in after every ten days?

Esil Diane -- I take it you mean around everything ten segments in the book? Each part seems to be divided into segments with a month and year as titles.
I'm really looking forward to this one. We have a long weekend starting in Canada and I plan to do a lot of reading and relaxing :)

Angela M After every ten segments sounds good to me . I got a copy from NetGalley so we would have the same version even though I bought it for $1.99 !

message 6: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Sounds good to me.

message 7: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Finished the first ten. Not sure how I feel about this yet. Just not interested in the airplane, bomber sections, just not my thing. Did like the art parts, and am Interested enough to see where this is going.

Angela M I finished through 10 as well and thought it went fairly quickly. I like it so far and like you Diane like the sections on the art and how Isabella describes her thoughts on her painting. I was though in a way taken by Freddie's thoughts as they were bombing Florence as he thought about it as his home and placing where Isabella would be.
Since not a lot has happened I wanted to suggest that we read through the rest of Part One through Ch 34 before we check back in .

Esil I just finished the first 10 too. I'm quite liking it. I like the writing, and I like Isabella, and the scenes between Isabella and Freddy. I'm not loving the flight scenes but I am assuming that won't be the focus of the book. I tend to find books set in Italy during WWII really interesting and so far so good for this one.

message 10: by Diane S ☔ (last edited Jul 02, 2017 05:35AM) (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Why don't we make it a definite check in after segment 34 but that we can check in if we have a question or observation at any time?

I loved the snowman built on the Bentley of the horrible commander with the note attached, you will be court marshalled. Liking this more and more.

message 11: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I'm fine with the suggestion of a check in after chapter 34. I'm getting my daughter off to camp this morning. She's going on a one month canoe trip in northern Ontario! I'll have plenty of reading time later this afternoon and for the rest of the long weekend.

Angela M Great . Good idea , Diane to check in with questions or even other comments as well . After 10 , I didn't feel we had gotten very far in the story but it looks like we will . I'm up to 17 and will get through 34 later . Still liking it . I've read a lot of WWII stories but can't recall any in Italy.

Esil , Happy Canada Day (a little late ) !

We're planning a fairly quiet time over the next few days . We may get together with my Stepdaughter and the kids on the 4th , nothing definite yet . Bob wants to go to a movie but there is not much of interest playing around here unless you are 6 or 12 years old. But may see The Beguiled.

Have a great weekend, friends!

message 13: by Angela M (last edited Jul 02, 2017 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angela M I finished through Part 1. I'm really enjoying the alternating narratives because we get to see what is going on with both Isabella and Freddie during the same times. Interesting to see the impact of the war from the fighting perspective and from what is happening at home. I admire Freddie's courage as well as Isabella's strength to become a painter in a man's world. I'm wondering about Freddie's attraction to Davy and wonder if that has something to do with the sexual problems between him and Isabella. It reads pretty quickly and I still like it . Not sure if I will love it. I'm curious to see what will happen , though when they are together again.

At the same time I'm reading this, I'm reading a beautiful short story collection. Things that I don't do very often - read two books at the same time or read short stories. It's an Arc of To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts and it's wonderfully written in a quiet way that I love . It's not connected by characters but definitely by themes . I digress ...

message 14: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ I am almost there. Love the vivid descriptions and despite myself have come to appreciate the bomber segments, love the camaderie between the men. Thought maybe Freddie was homosexual when I first read of the trouble between he and Isabelle, especially after she blindfolded him. Thought she did the because she thought it was possible too. Did it say anywhere that I missed why Freddie wasn't writing to Isabelle, why she hadn't heard from him for years?

Angela M I got the impression he didn't write because she was essentially in enemy territory and if he wrote either one of them would be in danger of being considered spies. I don't remember if that was said specifically or if it was implied, but that's what I thought.

message 16: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I'm 20 segments in and still enjoying it too. I made the same assumption as Angela about why there's no communication between Freddy and Isabella.

message 17: by Diane S ☔ (last edited Jul 02, 2017 05:11PM) (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Tomorrow is my 34th anniversary and my granddaughters third birthday.

Hope your daughter has a great time Lise, sounds like an exciting month for her . Have you ever been to St. Joseph's Island, Lise?

Angela M Diane , Happy Anniversary to you and your husband and Happy Birthday to adorable Cate.

Esil , hope you got your daughter off to camp okay. Enjoy the rest of your time at the cottage.

message 19: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Diane -- so nice to have your anniversary on your granddaughter's birthday. I hope you have a lovely day.

The camp send off went well. She was so excited. It will be hard not to hear from her for 4 weeks, but it was a positive life changing experience when my son did the same trip 3 years ago.

I've never heard of St. Joseph's Island. I'll have to look it up.

message 20: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I just finished the 15th segment of part 2. I'm liking this one more and more. The structure is a bit odd as alternating chapters gradually focus on a broader group of characters, but I love some of the characters that are now featured -- especially Oscar and his daughter. Isabella's situation is horrifying and interesting.

message 21: by Angela M (last edited Jul 03, 2017 06:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angela M I haven't gotten into Part 2 yet but will today and then come back. I wondered when we would see Oscar again.

This is what happens when I read two books at the same time. I get caught up in one . I couldn't put down the short stories until I finished it !
I will get caught up today !

message 22: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Had to work this morning and then went out to lunch with the hubby.

Chapter 20 in book one was the hardest chapter for me, the torture scenes. Now up to chapter fifteen book two. Freddie and his crew seems to have a guardian angel, wonder how long that will last? Isabel and her life has taken a nasty turn and feel so for Oskar and his little girl.

Angela M I'm up to Ch 15 of Part 2 and I like it a lot more now than I did earlier. The writing really is very good . I especially thought that in the descriptions of how Oskar feels about Esme . All of these characters are in danger in one way or another, each affected by the war in a different way . It's hard reading the parts where Oskar and Esme are in the internment camp.

message 24: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I finished book 2 last night. I'm still liking it more and more, and I love how some of the different strands are coming together with Isabella at the centre. Book 2 ends in a scary cliffhanger but I won't say more until we're all there.

Happy 4th of July btw. I hope you're having the same gorgeous weather today we're having here. It finally feels like summer!

Angela M I'm up to Ch 6 in Book 3. I like it more and more as you , Esil, especially as the characters and times are coming together. I am so taken with Oskar and Esme . As hard as it's been to read their narrative, these have been my favorite parts.

We are having a beautiful day - warm , sunny and no rain for a change . We're going to a cookout at my niece's house today so probably won't read much until tonight.

Have a great day , ladies!

message 26: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ I am on book 3, segment three. The writing has gotten stronger as the book has progressed. Love all the small details that make this seem so real, scrawny black pigeon huddled inside it's feathers, or Sundance of light on water, little touches like these. Also the insights provided by the characters such as, one thing the war has taught me is that it is probably our flaws rather than our qualities that plot out the map of our lives. Find this so true and not just in war.

Also love how this is unbiased and shows the many faces of war, good Germans, bad Germans, it is not all negative, a very balanced telling.

message 27: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Have a great 4th, our BBQ doesn't start until later in the afternoon. Making a spinach, tomatoes pasta salad and a grape salad that I fell in love with.

Angela M Sounds like we're all liking it quite a bit !

Definitely agree , Diane on the descriptions .

Just made a big fruit salad to take to my niece's . You'll have to share that grape salad recipe .

Angela M Hi ladies,
I was out most of yesterday and today so didn't read much . I'm up to ch 17 in Book 3 but plan to read tonight. You both may be beyond this or finished by now so go right ahead and post . I'll catch up . Glad to see Freddie ! Interesting how these characters are connecting.

message 30: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ I was out last evening too, so I am on Chapter 18 book three. Can you imagine living during this time, never knowing who to trust ? Where friends can become enemies in the blink of an eye? Freddie still seems to have the luck of the Irish as they say. Won't finish until tomorrow, though the short chapters do make the book fly by.

message 31: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I'm around the same point as you are Angela. I haven't had any reading time today, but plan to get back to it tonight. My guess is that I will likely be finishing tomorrow.

message 32: by Esil (last edited Jul 05, 2017 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Lol! I was posting at the same time as Diane. We all seem to be right in sync!

I agree with everything you've said Diane. The shifts in allegiances are interesting and feel realistic.

Angela M Glad we're in sync ! I'll probably finish tomorrow too .

Yes , totally agree , Diane . I'm anxious to get back to it to see what happens with the characters.

message 34: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Just finished segment 38 in part 3. I have to stop reading and get to work, but I would keep going if I could. Part three has gotten darker and darker. Some parts are almost intolerable -- like Francesco in the camp. But I'm increasingly impressed by how this author blends all of the characters and paints what feels like a realistic sense of chaos and terror people lived in at that time.

I'm hoping to finish tonight, although we get an overnight visit from son tonight who is working as a counsellor at camp for the summer. It will be nice to catch up.

Angela M I'm almost up to you, Esil - at segment 34 . I'll finish today . The torture scenes were very difficult to read .
The pace has definitely stepped up in Part 3. I agree that the author has done a great job of meshing these characters' lives.

I'll check back later.

Enjoy the time with your son .

message 36: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Segment 39 Book three. Intense, heartbreaking, have come to love these characters. Also have to go to work but will definitely finish later.

Have an enjoyable time with your son,Lise.

Angela M I finished today . A solid 4 stars for me. Hard to believe this is a debut novel. The alternating narratives were done so skillfully and the writing just got better and better . I haven't started a review yet. Probably won't post one until tomorrow.

My comments on the last part are here with spoiler tags in case you see this before you finish.
(view spoiler)

message 38: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ I have finished too, Same rating as Angela. Me too as far as your spoiler goes. The only thing I wonder is why Oskar never mentioned his wife again not tried to find out what happened to her. I guess we presume she died in the camps just felt the way that was dropped kind of strange, she was Esmes mother after all. Or did I miss something?

Angela M If you missed it, Diane so did I . i think there were a couple of times when he refers to her but nothing more than that - at least that I can remember. Probably assumed she died in camp.

message 40: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil I just finished too. Landing on 4 stars too. I really think it got better and better. The last chapter was lovely after so many brutal events towards the end. I agree that it's hard to believe that this is a first novel.

I assumed that Oscar's wife had dies given that she was taken to a camp fairly early on.

message 44: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Angela, here is the grape salad recipe.

I halved it and only used half the brown sugar for the topping.

Angela M Sounds delicious! Thanks , Diane . I'll have to make it next time we have a cookout or take it the next time I'm invited to one !

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