By far the majority of my reading is done on the Kindle these days. Choosing which book to read next (from a growing pile of actual books…) I’d actually forgotten the power of a good cover – I knew I’d like this book before I even thought about opening it. The other thing that attracted me was the unusual setting – could you point to Eritrea on a map (no, me neither)? Let reading my reviews become a learning experience (with thanks to Wikipedia!). It’s actually in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan to the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. In 1936, Eritrea became a province of Italian East Africa (along with Ethiopia), and by 1941, Eritrea had about 760,000 inhabitants, including 70,000 Italians.
Stephen Burke is a film maker, and it’s evident on every page that he originally intended this story for the big screen. With obvious comparisons with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, it would have made a wonderful film – but it also makes a pretty good book. It’s a quite beautiful love story, an equally excellent story of the ugliness and horror of war, with some vividly drawn characters who you grow to really love and care for. The writing is beautiful – many lovely touches of humour, other moments of heart-breaking sadness. You’ll love Enzo and grow to love Aatifa – and the hard drinking, hard partying Salvatore is quite magnificent. If this lovely book has slipped past your radar, do try it – I thought it was quite wonderful.
The Good Italian by Stephen Burke was published by Hodder and Stoughton in May 2014, and is available in hardback and for Kindle. The paperback will be released in January 2015.
Born and raised in Dublin, Stephen Burke studied film at the Dublin Institute of Technology. His first feature film was Happy Ever Afters , starring Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins. His directing work for television includes the TV film Anner House, based on a story by Maeve Binchy; and the award winning state of the nation series No Tears, which won Best Drama Series at the MonteCarlo TV festival. He began his writing and directing career making multi-award winning short films about the conflict in Northern Ireland – After ’68 and 81. A father of three children, he lives and works between Ireland and Italy.