Review

The Light in the Ruins

by Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian has truly flexed his literary muscles over the past several years and proven why he is one of the top fiction writers working today. After establishing himself as a “serious” writer with works like MIDWIVES and THE DOUBLE BIND, he has crossed into other genres and created tales centering on the Second World War, the supernatural and European history.

THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS, his latest masterpiece, is set in Italy during World War II and jumps in time between 1943-44 and 1955. He takes on the seldom-told story of Italians who unfortunately had sided with Adolf Hitler against the Allies, even though they did not share many of their beliefs. However, there was a lot of bad blood created by those Italian nationals who were “forced” to support the Germans while many others rebelled against this alliance.

"There are not many authors working today who handle secrets and complex relationships as deftly as Chris Bohjalian, and THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS is rife with both. This is a terrific read that will transport both long-time fans and newcomers back in time to one of the most turbulent periods in Italian history."

When a family in Monte Volta, Italy, the Rosatis, are viewed as assisting the Nazis in their quest to appropriate works of art from Italy, they draw unwanted attention to themselves and their beautiful Villa. Things are further complicated when young Cristina Rosati falls for one of the German officers.

When the story jumps to 1955, we are faced with an apparent serial killer who is targeting the Rosati family. The barbaric fashion that the sicko uses to enact revenge against the Rosatis show someone who bears a good deal of hatred towards them. Young Detective Serafina Bettini must battle her own ghosts from the war in order to protect the Rosati family before they are entirely wiped out.

What Bohjalian does best is to draw the reader deep into the drama and personal interplay and then hit you with an unexpected twist that changes your sensibilities and understanding of what is actually happening. With the WWII story told from the point of view of Italian citizens who were caught on the wrong side of history, Bohjalian has penned an especially poignant novel.

There are not many authors working today who handle secrets and complex relationships as deftly as Chris Bohjalian, and THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS is rife with both. This is a terrific read that will transport both long-time fans and newcomers back in time to one of the most turbulent periods in Italian history.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 11, 2013

The Light in the Ruins
by Chris Bohjalian

  • Publication Date: April 22, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0307743926
  • ISBN-13: 9780307743923