A Letter from Italy

Written by Pamela Hart
Review by Marina Maxwell

Brindisi, 1917. Rebecca Quinn says farewell to Jack, her husband and fellow journalist, who is off on a secret investigation into Albanian smugglers. She is left to manage on her own and report to various world newspapers on the naval campaign in the Mediterranean.

She meets Italian-American photographer, Sandro Panucci. As a team they become a formidable thorn in the side of the conservative naval information services and all-male contingent of reporters who are either sceptical or openly hostile to the idea of any woman reporting on war. After Rebecca uncovers a betrayal of trust by Jack that complicates her growing attraction to Sandro, she has to fight all the harder to stay focused and prove she can do her job better than the men. When the chance comes to get a scoop interview following the sinking of an enemy ship by the Italian navy, Rebecca and Sandro face many dangers together to get there first.

Australian author Pamela Hart has come up with another winner. Not only does she take us into an arena of World War I that is little known, the bittersweet tensions between the pair are skilfully negotiated, and the actions and responses of all her characters always fit perfectly with the values relevant to their time and place. Although Rebecca is determined to be the modern woman her suffragette mother has raised her to be, she is still bound to slow-changing conventions and her marriage vows. There is nothing fast or clichéd either about Sandro, a man with an uncompromising integrity born out of his beliefs and loyalty to the traditions he holds dear. (Besides, his grandmother, the marvellous and feisty Nonna Rosa, wouldn’t let him be otherwise!) Highly recommended.