A Harvest of Secrets

Written by Roland Merullo
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

It is Italy, 1943, and Vittoria San Antonio is missing Carlo, a worker on her father’s vineyard estate and the young man to whom she has given her heart. War is looming over the country, and Carlo has been called to enlist. While her father and wealthy friends all support Mussolini, Vittoria is torn between her family and Carlo’s espoused ideas for freedom from tyranny.

One of her father’s closest friends is Massimo Brindisi, who, although years older, shows a significant interest in Vittoria, causing her allegiance to Carlo only to strengthen. Raised in wealth, Vittoria begins to view her family’s existence as extravagant and shallow. When she finds out that her father is giving away boxes of wine to elicit favors from the occupying German army, she is bewildered. Then her feelings give way to astonishment when her father asks her to help with the wine deliveries. Her terrifying experience with the German officers solidifies her desire to thwart the German army.

As the narrative begins to unwind further, Vittoria joins a small group of resisters, and Carlo sustains massive wounds in a battle, leaving him with only one eye and a face full of unsightly scars. He decides his only hope is to make his way back north to Vittoria.

I enjoyed the story with its many twists and unexpected turns and characters who are not who they pretend to be. The author paces the action well so the reader can imagine that they, too, have experienced war. As with all war novels, there are scenes of violence, but hope rings eternal, and the reader will be turning the pages to see if Vittoria and Carlo will finally reunite. A well-recommended read.