Ciao Bella

Written by Gina Buonaguro Janice Kirk
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

Corelli’s Mandolin meets The Bridges of Madison County in this WWII tale of a love affair between an American soldier and the wife of a member of the Italian resistance.

Graziella lives in war-induced poverty with her senile father-in-law in the northern hills of Italy. Months have passed since the Allied troops swept the Germans out of the country. Yet her beloved husband, Ugo, still hasn’t returned home, and no one has heard from him since a disastrous raid on a German arms cache several months earlier. When an American soldier is stranded on the mountain after his motorcycle dies, he exchanges his labor for room and board in Graziella’s hayloft. Handsome and empathic, the soldier soon charms not only his hostess, but also her somewhat vicious in-laws and all the neighborhood children. Graziella still loves her husband, but can’t help her growing affection for the American—an affection complicated by guilt as news arrives of Ugo’s death. Her situation becomes even more complicated as terrible secrets from the war come to light, forcing Graziella to make an impossible choice.

A wistful story about the difficult decisions people must make in both love and war, Ciao Bella is drenched in Italian sunshine. The authors have penned a sweet, nostalgic story about how good people struggle to do the right thing, even when there are no good choices at all.