It has been AN AGE since I updated the News section of this website, but I thought you might like to read some of the praise that Our Darkest Night has garnered in early reviews. I’ll be updating as more come in, but here are some highlights so far:
“Robson (The Gown) shines with this stellar WWII story. In 1942 Venice, Antonina Mazin, a young Jewish woman, aspires to be a doctor like her father, despite crackdowns by Mussolini’s government on the rights of Jews. As the political winds turn more ominous, Antonina’s father arranges for her to go into hiding in a remote village, masquerading as Nina, the Catholic wife of local farmer and former seminary student Niccolò Gerardi. While their relationship at first is only for show, the two fall in love while working for the Resistance. But when a Nazi officer discovers Nina’s true identity, their lives are placed in jeopardy. The brutal reality and atrocities of war are on full view with devastating clarity. Expert characterizations and perfect pacing are rounded out by lyrical prose (“She lay on her side, stricken, watching the last of the sun fade to nothing, and she waited for the stars to bloom”). This will break readers’ hearts.”
“As the Nazis’ hold tightens over occupied Italy, life becomes increasingly difficult for Jewish citizens. Antonina Mazin, the daughter of a doctor, is shocked to discover her father has made a plan for her safety: she will travel to the countryside with Nico Gerardi, a young Christian man, and pose as his wife. No one–even his family–must know the truth. Jennifer Robson weaves a rich, compelling story of danger, sacrifice and steadfast love in her sixth novel, Our Darkest Night.
Like so many people during wartime, Antonina finds her life changed in an instant: she must bid her father and her invalid mother goodbye, change her name to Nina Marzoli, and leave her beloved Venice behind. Robson vividly renders Nina’s fear and disorientation as she accompanies Nico to his family’s farm. Once there, she finds a warm welcome from his younger siblings and his widowed father, but his sister Rosa, who runs the household, greets her with suspicion and disdain. Gradually, Nina settles into her new life, learning how to do chores in the house and on the farm. She and Nico become friends, then find themselves falling in love, even as Nico’s work helping refugees escape takes him away from home for weeks at a time. But a local Nazi officer, a man who was once a seminary classmate of Nico, grows suspicious of Nina, and his investigations into Nina’s background may put the entire family in peril.
Robson has a gift for illuminating the struggles and hopes of ordinary people against a backdrop of life-changing events. Nina and the Gerardis listen to the war news with mingled fear and hope, but they also must tend to their daily duties: planting and harvesting, scrubbing floors, the never-ending piles of mending. As Nina settles into her new life, she also learns to stand up for herself, ignoring catty whispers in the village and even becoming friends with Rosa. Her unexpected but deep love for Nico and his family, and her newfound fortitude, help her to survive when her life takes a dangerous turn. Although Robson’s readers know the broad outcome of the war, Nina’s story contains multiple twists that will keep readers guessing as to how things will turn out for her.
Powerful, heartbreaking and full of wise, compassionate characters, Our Darkest Night is the story of a woman learning to fight for what–and whom–she loves in the face of great evil.” – Katie Noah Gibson for Shelf Awareness