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Eternal Bets On...


March 2021

I love when authors step out of their comfort zone, stretch and leap --- and then land the jump. That is what Lisa Scottoline did in writing ETERNAL, a historical novel set in Italy in the late 1930s as Fascism is sweeping through the country, as well as anti-Semitism. While I confess to World War II reading fatigue, here I dashed that thought, as I fell in love with her three characters --- Elisabetta, Marco and Sandro --- who are childhood friends in Rome. Also, while I knew much about the war setting in England, France and Germany, I knew very little about the rise of Fascism in Rome and the terrible toll it took on the country.

While the historical details are firmly rooted in the story, what makes it soar is the storytelling. We see Elisabetta, a beautiful young woman, with two suiters: Sandro, who is bookish, and Marco, who is a brash biker. Visualizing the terrible toll of what is happening in Italy through their eyes gives readers a personal perspective. It will have them thinking again about the book’s tagline: “What war destroys, only love can heal.” The prologue teases some of what is to come; note that I recently have started revisiting prologues to see how they read once I have finished a book. It’s adding to my reading experience.

The writing was so descriptive, the setting so clearly drawn and the action so propulsive that it was a complete page-turner. Clearly it was deeply researched, which enhanced the storytelling. I am going to beg for more historical fiction from Lisa. I also closed it and wanted to make homemade pasta. When you read it, you will see why!

Book groups, there is so much to discuss here. There is a map in the book that will help you view the city of Rome. On her website, Lisa has added both an interactive map and videos where she talks about her research trip and how it inspired the various settings in the book. This will allow for a more immersive experience for your discussions. 

by Lisa Scottoline