The Girl from Bologna (Girls from the Italian Resistance
Heart-breaking page-turners, based on actual events in Italy during World War 2)
by Siobhan Daiko
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Pub Date 29 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 21 Jul 2022
From award-winning international bestselling author Siobhan Daiko comes an evocative, compelling story of love lost, daring exploits, and heart wrenching redemption.
Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp.
In the spring of 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.
Soon Rhiannon finds herself being drawn into a web of intrigue. What is Gianluca’s involvement with a nefarious far-right media mogul? And how is this man connected to Leila? As dark secrets emerge from the past, Rhiannon is faced with a terrible choice. Will she take her courage into both hands and risk everything?
For readers of Dinah Jefferies, Rhys Bowen and Angela Petch
Disclaimer: This book depicts war and the violence associated with it.
‘This is a beautiful story with a compelling historical storyline that you won't want to put down,’ Ann Bennett, bestselling author of The Orphan House.
‘Siobhan Daiko will tug at your heartstrings, and leave you desperate for more,’ Ellie Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club.
‘This was one of those I never want it to end books,’ Goodreads Reviewer
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 24 members
Yet another great book from Siobhan Daiko. Set in Bologna, Italy, 1943 this is the story of Leila but it is also a dual timeline where the other part of the story is set in Bologna in 1981 where exchange student Rhiannon Hughes rents a room from Lina and this and here is where the story becomes interesting.
This is a story of past and present, secrets and war and how the past affects life in the future of not just one person but of many. It is an intriguing and very interesting story that holds you throughout. It draws you into the story and makes you want more.
A great continuation of Girls from the Italian Resistance series and I wonder, will there be more.
A poignant and deeply moving story, The Girl from Bologna tells the account of a courageous woman who experienced the horrors of war in Bologna, Italy during World War II. As the story unfolds, we seamlessly move between this period and the 1980's, when Leila begins to record her memoirs while she welcomes a Welsh student into her home. Ms Daiko's novel is a page-turner filled with many heartbreaking moments. I felt like it was well-researched and the descriptive writing style made me feel like I was there watching the events unfold and experiencing the emotions of all the characters. I highly recommend!
Another dual timeline story in Historical Fiction but a wonderfully told story. The story takes place in Bologna, Italy and is the story of a woman named Leila who was part of the resistance during WWII. She tells the story of her past so her family will see that “the past is never dead”. Rhiannon moves to Italy in 1981 and Leila is her landlady.
The Girl from Bologna is a wonderful historical fiction novel that makes you feel as if you are there and a part of the story. That somehow you are peaking in on the lives of these two women and what each is trying to accomplish and what they have been through or are going through.
Thank you to #netgalley and #booksgosocial for allowing me to read the eARC of this book. All opinions expressed above are my own.
The Girl From Bologna
Leila, an elderly Italian woman takes in Rhiannon, a student from Wales who has arrived in Bologna to attend university where she will polish up her Italian language studies. Along with Gianluca, Leila's grandson, who is an investigative reporter, she gets herself involved in a mystery that involves a fellow classmate as well as a tyrant from Leila's past.
This well written historical fiction novel of the Resistance will have you feel as though you are walking through the streets of Bologna right alongside Rhiannon and Gianluca as they try to determine the relationship between Marie and Barzini, a man from Leila's past. It's full of twists and turns and has you wondering who the good guys are!
I love the way Daiko makes the city of Bologna come alive with her prose and makes you want to hop on a plane to experience both the food and the ambiance of this old city of love.
A wonderful read of the Resistance, of love, of war, and of patriotism!
Thanks to #NetGalley and #BooksGoSocial for this ARC. The pleasure of this review is my own opinion.
The Girl From Bologna was an excellent read. It was so realistic it could very well have been non-fiction. It's the story of Leila in real life and her memoirs of war torn Germany infested Bologna. Leila and her boyfriend Paolo turned husband were fighters for freedom. They were part of a group of comrades who fought valiantly against the Germans. One vile German soldier, Garzini, raped Leila's friend Carla, and attempted to do the same to her but was stopped at the last minute. Leila shot him hoping to have killed him. But he survived. Unfortunately, Paolo lost his life in a stand-off.
Rhiannon came from Wales to live with Leila as a student of the university. She and Leila got along famously. One day she met another student, Marie. Something wasn't quite right about her but Rhiannon couldn't put her finger on it. Marie claimed to be from Paris but it turned out she was from Lebanon. On one occasion, Gianluca, Leila's nephew, went to the school to meet up with Rhiannon and he met Marie. She was enamored with him and asked Rhiannon to invite him out for a drink with them. The day they were to go out Marie didn't show. So Rhiannon and Gianluca went without her. When Rhiannon went to the restroom she glanced out and saw Marie with an older man. Gianluca identified him as Garzini. This indicated that she was up to no good, as Gianluca was doing an investigative story on Garzini and his antics. Also, Marie had three male Palestinian friends that were a bit shady to Rhiannon. And Rhiannon had noticed bruises on Marie's face and she had been skipping classes.
Rhiannon told Leila of the Garzini siting and that Marie was seen with him. Leila then called a meeting of her comrades and informed them of Garzini's existence and of Marie's apparent clandestine relationship with him. Leila decided she wanted to meet Marie in hopes that she'd let something slip. That night Marie had quite a bit of wine and she started singing like a canary. Besides the evil Garzini was doing, she told them that he hits her. Leila reported back to her comrades about what Garzini was up to. They knew they had to stop him and the Palestinians. It was evident that Marie had little to do with it. She was merely a go-between.
The night of the dinner, Marie had so much to drink that it was decided she'd spend the night. The next morning, Rhiannon walked Marie home. When they arrived Garzini was waiting inside. He attacked Marie asking her where she'd been. She told him that she had gone to dinner at Leila's. He locked them inside the apartment and went to Leila's apartment.
Rhiannon and Marie found a way out and they went straight to Leila's. Meanwhile, Garzini showed up there and confronted her. She had her gun behind her back. When he pulled a gun on her they both shot. Garzini was shot in the forehead, Leila was shot in the chest. About that time Rhiannon and Marie arrived. Leila was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Her surgery was successful. She'd survived.
In the midst of all of this, Rhiannon and Gianluca we're in the midst of a blossoming relationship. They fell in love. They knew she had to leave soon but they agreed to remain in steady communication.
Anyway, after the shooting Marie disappeared. The police found her and took her in. She said she would only talk to Rhiannon. When she got there, Marie told her about the plot that Garzini had involved the Palestinians in. They were to use rocket shooters to take down an airplane. They were in hiding and Marie took Rhiannon, Gianluca and the police to them. They'd been hiding underground. When they arrived they saw them with the rocket shooters. Marie tried to stop them and one of the police opened fire and shot her in the back. She didn't make it. She was dead on the spot.
In the end, Rhiannon and Gianluca had their wedding in Wales. They had two sons: One was a doctor and one joined the police force. Leila, who was 90 years old lived in a senior facility. Gianluca gave up his job as an investigative reporter and became an author. He saw to it that Leila's memoir was published. They called it The Girl from Bologna. He wrote several other books.
This book was thoroughly entertaining. As I said in the beginning, it felt so real. I had a hard time putting it down. I intend to read the other books by this author. This a great book for book club.
What a wonderful, emotional story detailing some of issues in Bologna during WW2. The story of the dedicated resistance fighters had me reading late into the night. The author did an amazing job of telling the story of Leila and other resistance fighters using an oral history embedded in the story of Leila 30 years after the end of the war.
The oral history was soooooo believable. I could imagine the character talking into the tape recorder. I could feel Lelia's struggles with the past. Her story was so heartbreaking. The losses were devastating. Leila's oral history shows how the past still influences the present.
Years after the end of the WW2, Bologna still suffers. Corruption still riddles the government. A foreign exchange student, Rhiannon, living with Leila brings the past and the present together. The story was a great reminder of how much the past influences. We should never forget, but we should learn from the past.
The Girl From Bologna
Thank you to the author, NetGalley and the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for a review!
In the early 1980s, Rhiannon moves to Bologna from Wales to spend a semester studying at the university there, in hopes of bettering her Italian speaking skills and exploring the city. Rhiannon's landlady, Leila, is making a record of her experience during WWII and the occupation of Bologna and her time as a Bolognese partisan, in hopes that she can gives these cassettes to her family so they understand that "the past is never past."
Learning about Leila's past, her frequent run-ins with Nazis, her own actions and losses during this time, was very interesting and eye opening for me. As someone who is always interested in any kind of history, I felt that while I know a lot about WWII, I know almost nothing about the occupation of Italy at this time or even the things that had occurred in the country. I can see that the author has done a great deal of research when writing this book.
Rhiannon's arrival is much later than when the memoirs take place, but you can quickly sense that there is some tension in Italy as soon as she arrives. The political climate is not as she expected, and we learn that there was recently a terrorist bombing of one of the train stations in Bologna before her arrival. I think having the two events told side by side really helps to add to the idea of the past is never really the past, and history inevitably repeats itself.
I thought it was an interesting choice that the author chose to make Leila's chapters in the first person perspective and Rhiannon's in the third, it makes Leila’s memories all the more personal.
While the book really drives home the fact that these periods of history were dire and filled with loss of life, there are moments we get to see some rather sweet romance which gives us a short break from the heavy events. Remember, this book does recount events in detail, so be prepared for that and I must mention there is a rape scene in the book.
I enjoyed this one so much that I am excited with reading the previous ones in the series and next ones that come!
A young lady from Wales is in Italy in 1981 to continue her Italian studies where she found a room at a reasonable fee with a widower named Leila. Leila’s nephew Gianluca takes care of his aunt and Leila and Gianluca become a couple.
World War II split Italy into factions. The Germans offered substantial rewards, extra food, and benefits to those who turned on their fellow citizens. Now 35 years after the end of WWII, distrust, and hate are still rampant!
Leila’s failing health spurs her to write her memoirs. She was widowed when her husband was captured by the Nazi’s and executed. She will not forgive and cannot forget. The student, Rhiannon, is thrust into a society rampant with intrigue and acts of terror and vengeance.
The author has written a very engaging story of love, vengeance, and hate in this gripping novel of a survivor of the occupation. Sabotage and disruption of supply lines to the Germans by the resistance caused quick retribution and killings nearly every day. The Nazi’s showed no mercy to the Italian people after they surrendered in 1943.
This book is very engaging and evokes sympathy for the people trapped in a war from which they wanted to withdraw. The characters are well developed and powerful in their beliefs. Enjoy the adventure! 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Good book well written, great feel good book for people don't want violence etc and want take themselves out of the current world and indulge in make believe
The Girl from Bologna (Girls from the Italian Resistance #3) is a gut wrenching and achingly beautiful dual timeline book set in Bologna, Italy in both 1943 and years later in 1981. I have had the privilege of reading all three in the series and have enjoyed them all, well worth reading.
German-occupied Italy brought unspeakable horrors to all residents of Bologna, including Leila who experienced barbaric acts and witnessed death through the eyes of a nineteen-year-old girl. She was moved to join the Resistance and as such lead a dangerous existence, always watchful and privy to secret information. Life was about survival. Thankfully she had spots of joy in the midst of dreadfulness.
In 1981 student Rhiannon from Wales moved to study in Bologna and roomed in Leila's home. She enjoyed Italian life (wonderful multi-sensory descriptions including sights, sounds, smells of food) and befriended others while there. She became involved in Leila's life and saw her deep sorrow as Leila re-lived her past when recording WWII experiences. Rhiannon learned a lot about history through these stories, an excellent reminder for us.
My favourite aspects of this story are the descriptions of Italy (which I know and love) and historical details. WWII was, of course, the epitome of cruelty and the author does not shy away from brutality. Do know there is a rape scene. Be sure to read the author's notes on her inspiration and research.
Those seeking a different twist on WWII Historical Fiction ought to read all three books, all with common themes but different stories.
My sincere thank you to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this captivating book.
In ‘Requiem For A Nun,’ William Faulkner suggests that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” How true! These words resonated with then-Senator Barak Obama in a speech, the author in researching this book and now readers see these cautionary words played out, both in the plot and in real-time with the Ukraine war.
Daiko’s attention to authenticity enhanced the story’s atmosphere and kept me in the 1943 world she’d created for me. With a plethora of WW2 books on the market, Daiko has set herself apart because she dug deep to find another perspective, bringing depth to the resistance movement in Italy. Her novel is a testament to her diligent, meticulous research and her commitment to bringing readers a unique perspective on a well-told period in history. Daiko’s ability to completely immerse me in the period was phenomenal; it was all-encompassing, vivid and emotive. She introduced me to Bolognese singer Lucio Dalla, told of making homemade Alchermes, reminded me of how different the Bolognese dialect was, shared about what it was like living in a country which had switched allegiance during the war, told of living under repression, intimidation and dealing with confiscation and restrictions by the Nazis. Daiko is skilled at taking her readers back in time. She’s also an expert at describing the setting and placing us there. Since finishing this book, I’ve been dreaming of coffee made in a Bialetti, sitting down to a big plate of ragu alla bolognese and home-made tagliatelle, nibbling on a piadine and slurping Zuppa Inglese, and sipping San Giovese at The Baglioni. I’ve noted several places to visit should we ever find ourselves back in Bologna!
I love learning as I read, and therefore, appreciated Daiko adding to my knowledge of wartime Italy. I was unaware of the horror at Piazza del Nettuno nor Operation Radium and increased my understanding of the Bolognese resistance.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Daiko does not shy away from the horrors of war nor the violence associated with it. Be forewarned that there is a rape scene. In keeping true to events and wartime experiences, the author reminds us how fragile and fleeting life was at that time as the urban guerrillas (gappisti) antagonized the Nazis and fascists. What hit home the most for me was the ripple effect of the Nazis appropriating warfare supplies from Italian hospitals, ultimately affecting those undergoing cancer treatment. I’d never considered this before.
This 5-star dual timeline, book three in the Girls From The Italian Resistance series, can stand alone and is one historical fiction readers will want to have on their summer reading list.
I was gifted this advance copy by Siobhan Daiko, BooksGoSocial, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
Thank you Net Galley for the ARC of The Girl from Bologna by Siobhan Daiko. This WW2 book was a little different from others I have read in that it was set in 1981 and the Italian partisan told her 1940s story into a cassette tape for her family to know her past. Rhiannon is a student from Wales that comes to live with Leila, her landlady, in Bologna, Italy to study Italian at the local university, but there is so much more going on in the town. Rhiannon and Leila's nephew get mixed up in some intrigue that involves a nemesis from Leila's partisan days. Overall, I enjoyed the story. There were a few uneven spots that I didn't think pushed the story along, but the other plot points were page turners as I had to find out what happened next to Leila or Rhiannon. Setting the story in 1981 allowed for more suspense in the story because there were no cell phones to just call or look something up. The characters had to trust people or find a pay phone to connect with others. This was similar to a dual timeline but more subtle as the 1940s story was embedded within chapters as Leila revealed her strength and fortitude to push through the ugliness and heartbreak of war. This is the third book in the Girls from the Italian Resistance series, so now I will have to go back to read the first two.
“𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘁...“
This is an impactful story about a girl from Bologna, Italy who lived a fulfilling life with her family, friends and boyfriend before the Germans arrived and erased every smile she’s lived to love.
The plot is very significant, taking the reader from the 40’s Nazi occupation to the 80’s. It tells the story of Leila and her recorded memoir about the horrors she had to go through in quest of freedom, her nephew Gianluca and the university exchange student, Rhiannon, who added such a spice to the story line.
If you are interested in Italy and Italian history during the WWII, this book is for you!!
Although it did take me more time than usual to finish, given the fact that I love historical fiction, the promise of a fulfilling ending kept me going.
I enjoyed the book, finishing in 2 days. I could see it being a play or movie with the way the author describes the scenes. Easy to follow.
Leila. lives in a small town, Bologna, Italy. She has close friends, a beau and a wonderful family. Life changes dramatically once the Germans arrive and take over their town. Her best friend, Rachel, and her family are all taken. Leila decides to join forces to get their town/life back.
Fast forward to 1981. Leila has decided to record her memoirs, opening up a sad past. In the process, she has decided she's lonely and would like company. She rents a room to Rhiannon, foreign student, who will be studying at the university.
Rhiannon makes a friend at the university who leads her down a path of mystery which draws in Leila and her nephew, Gianluca. Leading back to a past that Leila has not been able to forget.
The Girl from Bologna was another thoughtfully written book in the Girls from the Italian Resistance series. This one followed Leila, who was recording her memoirs about her time fighting in the Resistance for her family, as she had never spoken of it to anyone and had decided it was time, now that the was was over 40 years in the past. She takes in a boarder named Rhiannon for the summer and winds up sharing her history with Rhiannon and her great-nephew, GianLuca, as they get involved in some intrigue that has ties to her past.
My heart broke for Leila and her story unfolded, what a horrendous time for her and for the world! Although is today any better? Thank you to the author,BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Moving and heartfelt! Enjoy! Whimsical but never frivolous, sweet but not sugary, deeply kind rather than merely nice. I loved it. The story itself was also even more interesting than I had anticipated.
This was a fun, engaging read. I love historical fiction. I didn't realize this was a romance as well.
I did like the inclusion of the 1980s a d her reflection on her past. It makes it feel more real, and also reminds the reader that the horrors and lives of WWII was not really that long ago. I would recommend this book to fans of WWII historical fiction and strong female characters.
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Character development: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommended for readers of:
I like this book because it gives an interesting historical perspective of life in Italy and mainly the Bologna area during WII. The book has interesting well developed characters, their actions were well explained and the plot is solid and nicely written, the story flows well with the right amount of suspense, a bit romance mixed with some of historical facts which created a captivating story that was suspenseful till the end.
Review copy provided by NetGalley at no cost to me.
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