Under the Light of the Italian Moon

Written by Jennifer Anton
Review by J. Lynn Else

Spring 1923. Nina Argenta marries the man of her dreams, Pietro Pante. Despite their loving union, duty to their families will keep them apart. Nina has promised to stay by her mother’s side in Italy and assist with midwifing. Meanwhile, Pietro works in America, sending money home to his parents, and can only stay in Italy a few months or risk losing his job. He also hopes to bring his growing family to America, but this keeps him from things like the birth of his children and their first years of life. As Mussolini and fascism grows across Italy, a shadow begins to fall across Nina’s small village. Then Mussolini allies himself with Hitler, and the shadow takes shape in the form of hate and greed. Is the family’s dream of uniting in America shattered beyond repair?

Nina learns to parent and raise children, suffer profound loss, and support the women in her community as a midwife by herself while Pietro works in the grueling mines in America. Nina observes the way women are exploited as vessels to create large families and men are taken away to make war. If Pietro was in Italy with Nina and their children, she questions if things would be better. Yet when soldiers bang on Nina’s door demanding food, she must learn to stand on her own.

Each character is multifaceted and develops through trials, making them more enduring. The impactful relationship of mothers and daughters is passionately explored. As one line poignantly states, “Funny how we forget our mothers were girls; they once belonged to themselves and not to their own children.” Anton exquisitely pens how such loving relationships endure. Spanning the two great wars, the passing years between 1914 to 1947 are emotionally turbulent for the characters, their families, and readers alike.