Having loved “The Night Strangers,” which has decidedly super natural undertones, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the latest piece of historical fiction from Chris Bohjalian, “The Light in the Ruins.” (I was pretty meh about “The Sandcastle Girls.”) The good news is, I’m glad I picked this one up from the library! Bohjalian deftly weaves a together characters and plot against a historically fascinating backdrop- in this case, the mid to late WWII and the 1950’s. Set in Italy and told from three distinct points of view, the novel explores how the events of 1943 change the lives of the Rosati family, who own a beautiful estate outside of Florence, and those around them. Bohjalian avoids all of the cliches normally associated with WWII, or when he does venture towards that area brings a fresh perspective voice that doesn’t feel tired or “done already.” I also really like how as a male author, he is able to create and write in the voice of strong female characters (all of the main players in this novel are women).
While it became easy to tease out where the novel was going around the 2/3rds mark, I was so enamored with the characters and the story that I didn’t hesitate when it came to finishing the book off.
SPOILER (highlight the next two lines with your mouse to illuminate!): I swear during one of the killer POV chapters, Bohjalian has that person say that they are a woman… did I misread? Also, Arabella! Poor, poor Arabella!!
Available for purchase from Amazon.com. I also obtained a copy of this novel from the New York Public library (yay eBooks at the library!).
Have you checked out any of Chris Bohjalian’s other novels?
xo The Book Bird