The Italian Alps,1944. The Resistance is fighting a bitter battle against German forces on the treacherous mountains of the Valtellina. Eighteen-year-old Sandro Bellini falls in love with the wife of his Commander. No good can come of it.
London,1999. Michael Keats is mourning the death of his wife, killed in a hit and run accident in Northern Italy. His discovery that she had been having an affair devastates him and he sets out to find the identity of her lover.
That journey leads him to the villages of the Valtellina, where he becomes embroiled in a crime of treachery and revenge. The brutal repercussions of the war are still reverberating, and as Michael uncovers the truth of his wife’s affair, he reveals five decades of duplicity and deception.
I absolutely love books that have anything to do with modern European history and specifically set during the 20th Century. So you can appreciate why the synopsis of ‘The Partisan Heart’ certainly caught my interest and I knew I just had to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Partisan Heart’ but more about that in a bit.
I liked the wide range of characters in ‘The Partisan Heart’. At the start I did feel for Michael because he is dealt a double whammy. His wife sadly passes away following a hit and run accident in Italy. His attitude towards his wife changes somewhat when he makes the devastating discovery that his wife was having an affair. At this point, Michael feels all sorts of conflicting emotions and I am not surprised. Finding out his wife has been having an affair must be devastating for him. It isn’t long until he sets out to find the identity of his wife’s lover and he will not rest until he does. What he uncovers is surprising and shocking at the same time.
I was hooked on this book from the moment I read the synopsis, never mind from when I began to read the story itself. I loved the fact that the story was set in part during the Second World War and that a huge part of the story was set in Italy. I have read a lot of stories set in the UK or in Germany but not a lot of stories have been set in Italy. So in that sense ‘The Partisan Heart’ made a refreshing change. I couldn’t get enough of this story and reading it soon became an addiction. It was as if the book had a hold over me and it was a hold that I didn’t want to break.
‘The Partisan Heart’ has two different storylines which run parallel to each other. One storyline takes place in 1999 and follows Michael’s attempts to uncover more about his wife’s deception. The other storyline is set during 1944 and follows a member of the Italian Resistance as they fight against the Germans. This member of the Resistance also falls in love but with the most inappropriate lady that there is. She happens to be the wife of the lad’s Resistance Commander. To start with I did wonder how the two timelines could possibly be connected but as the saying goes, all became clear in the end. The two timelines interlink well and the story flows seamlessly. Gordon has one of those writing styles that draws you in from the start and he makes you feel as though you are part of the story yourself. That’s how I felt anyway.
In a nutshell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Partisan Heart’ and I would recommend it to other readers and particularly to those readers who enjoy historical fiction. I can’t wait to read what Gordon comes up with next. Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.