Book review: Beneath A Scarlet Sky

Beneath A Scarlet Sky is an historical fiction novel about a young man named Pino Lella from Milan who is the Italian WWII hero nobody has ever heard about, until now. The 400+ page novel opens on June 9, 1943 and concludes two years later in the Spring of 1945 when the Germans are forced out of Italy by the Allied Forces.

At the outbreak of WWII, Pino Lella is a teenager from a well to do family who is far more interested in girls and American jazz than war. However, that would all change as the frontline of the war came to Italy and Nazi Germany made a last ditch effort to stave off the Allies on Italian soil.

Before the war would conclude, Pino would end up sneaking groups of Italian Jews out of the country through the Alps and into neutral Switzerland, fall madly in love with the maid of Third Reich mistress and suffer unspeakable heartbreak, meet powerful Italians including Benito Mussolini and Archbishop Schuster of Milan as well as become the chauffer for General Leyer (Adolf Hitler’s right hand in Italy). Pino would go on to risk his life by spying on General Leyer for the Italian Resistance and Allied Forces (unbenknowst to all but his aunt and uncle), which earned him the scorn of his younger brother and friends and nearly cost him his life in the days that followed the Nazi’s hasty retreat from Milan.

It is amazing to think that until this novel was written, Pino Lella’s extraordinary life as a war hero was unknown. In the final pages of the book the author, Mark Sullivan shares with us Pino’s life after the war and we learn that although he survived the war and became a successful businessman, he never truly recovered from all he had seen and the loss of his true love.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. The links below will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, you can check your local library for a copy of this book. Here is a link to the BPL copy for Beneath A Scarlet Sky.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay


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