Book of the week: Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton

Literature is a wonderful ‘device’ to immerse ourselves into worlds that would not be possible to explore. Thanks to new historical fiction novel, based on real events, Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton, published 8th March 2021 (International Women’s Day) I could go back in time to watch the lives of generations of strong Italian women unfold.  Their stories and the constant references to beautiful parts of Italy have made me long for a trip to my country more than ever before during the pandemic. This novel, in fact, provides the perfect escapism from dreary lockdown life. The detail of Nina’s life in Italy is done very well and reminds me of my own grandmother’s stories – drawing in the picturesque scenery of mountain views and describing the delicious Italian foods, from homemade tiramisu’, biscottis to polenta stew.

 

This is also a love story to the author’s grandmothers, and the story of the strong women left to fight their own battles during the war. Jennifer previously worked in marketing for brands such as Revlon and Tory Burch. This marks her debut novel; a novel she feels she was meant to write this story to connect with her family heritage. 

Jennifer has been researching this novel for around 14 years in a mission to unearth her family history and share her ancestor’s story. It is based on a true story and on one level is a historical fiction retelling, but also so much more. Jennifer explores motherhood and childbirth in all its forms, from post-natal depression, still births, cot death, adoption, to the maternal relationships through generations.  Jennifer herself experienced a scary childbirth, suffering a life-threatening post-partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died – she used this novel as a way to channel her desire to speak about the challenges faced by mothers and the emotional journey writing this book.

The story

Under the Light of the Italian Moon follows the story of Nina, a young girl and daughter of the town’s strong-willed midwife, growing up in Fonzaso Italy between two wars, Nina is the epitome of a traditional rural Italian girl, but she longs for more. She seeks to define her destiny. But after her brother emigrates to America in pursuit of a better life, Nina decides to make a selfless sacrifice, vowing never to leave Italy and to stay and support her mother. When she falls for her childhood friend Pietro Pante, who returns to their mountain town, and passion between them ignites, she is faced with choosing between her family commitments and following her heart.

But as their romance blossoms, Mussolini forces political tensions to rise, throwing the country into chaos. When Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive.

A future with Pietro begins to seem impossible as Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone… Can Nina find the strength to survive and find her way back to Pietro?

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is a story of love, women’s resilience, pain and hope, based on a true story and heart-breaking real events.

A debut novel that seems to be written by an expert writer who explores a true story of love and friedship, which is a testament to women’s resilience and courage during the rise of fascism and WWII.

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is a moving tale, spanning across two decades, of choosing love in times of war, fortitude in times of hardship, and hope in times of tragic loss.

 

The inspiration behind ‘Under the Light of the Italian Moon’ in Jennifer Anton’s own words:

“My grandmother grew up under Mussolini’s fascist rule and then lived through Nazi occupation in her small northern Italian town, yet she never talked about it, and the reality of what she lived through went unknown. She died two weeks after my daughter was born, never getting to meet my baby, and I wondered what of hers I could share with my daughter. The unanswered questions I never was able to ask became a map for my journey to understand her life and brought me to Italy again and again. She never returned to the country she loved. I did that for her.”

 

The author

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois now living between London and Lake Como, Italy. An advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family. In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, Jennifer suffered a life-threatening post-partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died. This tumultuous year began a 14-year journey to capture the stories of her female Italian ancestors and develop them into a historical/biographical fiction novel. In 2012, she moved with her family to Milan, Italy. Later, she moved to London where she has held leadership positions with companies including Revlon and Tory Burch. Under the Light of the Italian Moon is her first novel, based on the lives of her Italian grandmother and great grandmothers during the rise of fascism and World War II.

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