A nice, if slightly episodic novel. Good pace and an enjoyable story. Some things grate a little – the sometimes clumsy tricks to give the translation of Italian dialogue without actually doing it in brackets or something; the superficial evocation of period, using glimpses of newspapers and so on; and some cliched involvement of mysterious priests and nuns.
But these are the quibbles of a cynic. It is a good story, well written, with some nice insights into the nature of being Irish in the 20th century and the sense, that I suspect befalls many among later generations, that the drama and passion of the war years will never be repeated.
It also reminded me what an amazingly rich source of story telling WWII is, and has been. The racial nature of the horrors, the primary colours of the moral choices – so many things around which a story with psychological moment can be created.
American readers may justifiably feel a little aggrieved; the American characters are defined by their Americanism and they are two dimensional.
But this is a good read.