Set mainly in Northern Italy during the latter months of the Second World War, Pippo’s War is a wartime story which incorporates, not just the horror of living through an uncertain time, but also the indecision and trauma of young love. The eponymous Pippo, despite his father’s Fascist political beliefs, is a young man whose strong principles are about to be called into question. Forced into exile with his mother, Rose, and Hannah, a young teenage Jewish girl, fifteen-year-old Pippo is soon plunged into the centre of conflict. His burgeoning romantic feelings towards Hannah, and his conflicting thoughts about what is happening in Italy, form the basis for this interesting coming-of-age story.
Taken as a whole, the written quality of the novel is good. It is evident that the author has researched the period and writes knowledgably about time and place. The story flows reasonably well, although I did think that the beginning was rather slow and it took me a while to get comfortable with the characters and the plot. However, about a third of the way into the novel, the story starts to pick up and becomes more interesting. The book is nicely presented and professionally finished, with good attention to detail and sits comfortably within the historical novel genre.
I have one concern, and that is, that I don’t feel the book cover does the story justice. Whilst the background of the Italian villa is nicely done, the two central figures appear a little clumsy and in my opinion, weaken the overall effect of the cover art.