Hello and welcome to my stop on The Girl From Venice By Siobhan Daiko

The Girl from Venice
By Siobhan Daiko

Publication Date: 1st July 2021

Publisher: ASOLANDO BOOKS

Page Length: 300 Pages

Genre: Romantic Historical/Women’s Fiction

Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s racial laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice in 1943, she must flee the city to save her life.

Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh Nazi reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent anti-fascist activities threaten to tear them apart.

Decades later in London, while sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.

Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots. There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.

A heart-breaking page-turner, based on actual events in Italy during World War II

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ECERPT

Lidia followed Falcon through the central door, stepping into a well-lit stone-floored hallway where a bearded man was sitting in a high-backed wooden chair, smoking. ‘You took your time,’ he muttered as he stood. Then, with a growl of affection, he pulled Falcon into a bear hug and clapped him on the back.

Falcon introduced Lidia to the man. ‘Commander Rocco of the Matteotti Brigade.’

‘We need you to talk to the inglese,’ Rocco said to her in a gruff voice. ‘Find out if he is who he says he is.’ He headed towards a glass door at the side of the hall. ‘Ask him why he’s the only one in the mission. We were expecting at least two of them.’

‘Va bene,’ she said, her heart swelling with pride at the task she’d been assigned.

They entered a spacious dining room. Sepia photographs of World War I soldiers decorated the white-washed walls, and the delicious aroma of meat stewing infused the air.

She ignored the sudden rumble of hunger in her stomach—she hadn’t eaten her fill in weeks. A fair-haired man was sitting at the rectangular oak table. His khaki-coloured battledress looked smart, and his handsomely chiselled face was clean-shaven. He pushed back his chair and stood to attention. ‘Captain Roden at your service,’ he saluted. 

After introductions, Lidia and Falcon left their weapons by the door, and chairs were found for them.

‘I’ll leave you to it,’ Commander Rocco said. ‘Report what you find out to me before we have lunch.’

Lidia sat next to Captain Roden. ‘First, we need to establish you are who you say you are,’ she said.

The Englishman reached under his shirt and pulled out the metal chain that hung around his neck. He showed her a circular disc inscribed with his name, date of birth, blood group, religion, rank, and service number. ‘Is that good enough?’ he winked.

Lidia prickled at the wink. She wanted to be taken seriously, as a freedom fighter and not as some silly girl to be winked at. 

She shot a frosty look into his twinkling blue eyes. ‘Good enough? Hmmm. Tell us how you came to be here on your own.’

‘My second-in-command landed badly when we parachuted from our Dakota above Asiago the other night. He broke his hip and had to be carried off to a nearby sanatorium.’

‘That’s unfortunate,’ Lidia said before translating.

‘Ask him which airport his plane took off from,’ barked Falcon. 

‘Bari,’ the captain responded.

‘Find out about his war record,’ Falcon reminded her.

She questioned the captain, then relayed to Falcon that Roden had served as a gunner in a heavy anti-aircraft regiment before they’d transferred him as a staff officer to GHQ Cairo, where he’d got himself recruited into SOE, the acronym for Special Operations Executive.

‘What was his preparation for this mission?’ 

Lidia translated and the captain explained he underwent basic parachute instruction near Brindisi before being sent to Monopoli—where he trained with his second-in-command by carrying heavy weights on their backs over rough country and engaging in unarmed combat.

‘I’ve brought my radio transmitter-receiver,’ Captain Roden indicated the small suitcase by his feet. ‘I’ll be able to coordinate drops of weapons and ammunition.’

‘Good,’ Falcon rubbed his hands together. ‘We have no radio for communications ourselves.’

The conversation moved on to a discussion of the partisan groups on the Grappa. Captain Roden revealed that his briefing had been minimal. The staff at H.Q knew virtually nothing about the area he’d been sent to work in, had little information about what the partisans were actually doing here, and only had a patchy knowledge of the geography of the mountain. Upon being told there were four brigades, Roden advised they should set up a central command unit. ‘We expect our forces to break through the German Gothic Line any day now,’ the captain said. ‘We’d like you to harass the Germans as they retreat. Also destroy their supply lines by sabotaging the Trento to Bassano railway track.’

‘That’s exactly what we’ve been attempting to do,’ Falcon huffed. ‘Your briefing has certainly been abysmal.’

Roden apologised, and Lidia almost felt sorry for him. But she didn’t like the way he was shooting covert looks at her while she translated, as if she were a creature from another planet, so she reined in any sympathy she’d started to feel for him.

‘We need more weapons if we are to be effective,’ Falcon added. ‘We have enough men to make a real impact. Get on that radio of yours and tell the Allies to stop pissing about and step up the air drops.’

‘Will do.’ The captain blew out a breath.

‘What’s your battle name?’ Falcon cocked his head. ‘We all have one up here.’

‘Do I need one? I mean, if I’m caught, I’ll be held under the Geneva convention.’

Falcon laughed at his response. 

‘We’re in the middle of a civil war in Italy, don’t you know? I doubt any of us are covered by the Geneva convention,’ Falcon smirked.

‘Ah, of course.’ Roden appeared pensive. ‘How about you all call me “David”?’

‘Va bene.’ Falcon got to his feet. ‘I’ll go and find Rocco, tell him what you’ve told me and then we’ll have some lunch.’

‘So,’ the captain smiled at Lidia. A nice smile that lit up his eyes. ‘Have you been a partisan for long?’

AUTHOR

Siobhan Daiko

Siobhan Daiko is an international bestselling historical romantic fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese puppy and two rescue cats. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time, when she isn’t writing, enjoying the sweet life near Venice.

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