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The story of a life that was too short, a representation of many lives that should have not been ended because they were pointlessly murdered in wars and by the evil doings of agents for the other side. By the end, our protagonist has matured as have I. What these people were doing was not about them, it was about something much bigger. They were fighting and they were risking their lives to help other people and to make the saving of other people be possible. I will be reading more books by Alex Preston in the near future.

Jul 13, Michelle rated it really liked it. Like many bestsellers, the paperback edition of this one includes a long section of review quotations inside the front cover, but the ones the publisher has chosen to highlight for the cover itself are telling. I used to buy a magazine called The Chap, which had articles on how to make yourself look like a nineteenth-century consumptive, and innovative uses for a Corby trouser pre Like many bestsellers, the paperback edition of this one includes a long section of review quotations inside the front cover, but the ones the publisher has chosen to highlight for the cover itself are telling.

I used to buy a magazine called The Chap, which had articles on how to make yourself look like a nineteenth-century consumptive, and innovative uses for a Corby trouser press. Monocle sounds like that--only not satirical. The first half of this book reeks of privilege: ex-pats abroad shagging the locals. The winking indulgence the characters and the narrative show towards a predatory paedophile is particularly queasy.

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The second half contrasts strongly with this--no doubt intentionally--and is about self-sacrificial heroism in the Italian resistance during the Second World War. The detail about how the resistance operated is odd, and strangely implausible, even if it's true which it probably is, given the author's insistence in the afterword on his research.


The various cells communicate in uncoded transmissions on an open wireless network, they don't observe any kind of compartmentalisation members know lots of information they don't need to know , and none of them break under torture. Whereas I thought it was a maxim that everyone breaks, and you can only realistically hope to hold out for 48 hours to give the network time to disperse no-one bother doing that here: they just cross their fingers and hope their comrades will give nothing away.

Maybe you can operate like that in a situation in which resistance is widespread, and the authorities don't enjoy unqualified support from the populace, but the contrast with the descriptions of clandestine networks in say Alan Furst's Night Soldiers and Dark Star is striking. The first half is two stars; the second three and a half. As a portrait of British Council ex-pats caught up in the war and dealing with local fascists, I prefer Olivia Manning's Balkans Trilogy, and as a portrait of partisan warfare, I prefer Furst's Night Soldiers. But the historical detail on British fascism, and later on the Italian resistance, is interesting both subjects being underrepresented in fiction in English.

Though I wasn't entirely convinced by the way the book stitches the two halves together. Jul 17, Sorcha O'Dowd rated it it was amazing Shelves: literary-fiction , book-case-read , paperback , drama , historical , cultural , romance , favourites , war-military , signed-books. I was too emotionally drained to write a review coherent enough to express how much of a masterpiece this book is when I first finished it. What a heart-breaking, just all round outstanding novel!

恋は戦争 (Koi wa Sensou)

I could feel the Italian heat, I could see the balconies, the streets and the people. There are different parts to this novel, and each one is different. All of which were paced perfectly. You will smile, cry, shiver, clutch your chest at the pain of war, and really think about all the unnamed people who died in WWII trying to make this place a better world. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but through this book, Alex Preston has given a new meaning to these brave men and women, and the battles they fought. Thank you so much Alex Preston for signing my book before it was sent to me.

I will treasure it! Jul 10, Jane rated it really liked it. This was a part of history that I had not read about and found the storyline fascinating from start to finish. There is so much in this novel assassination plots, art and letter, spies, espionage and love. He becomes cynical about the whole regime. The story continues with Esmond and his relationship with antifascists. The author recounts the whole aspect of fascism and is well accounted.

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This takes the reader to a part of history that for me I was not familiar with and this has encouraged me to read into this subject further. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author. Dec 09, Mirella rated it really liked it.

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  • The author writes in such a way that it evoked the sights, smells, and sentiment of the time of a city rich with culture and untarnished by modernity. The novel is multi-layered with several intriguing subplots and a bevy of colorful characters. Through their eyes, and their interaction through letters, radio programs, and telegrams, the tale unfolds with poignancy.

    The author was able to evoke many emotions where the brutal realities of war was skillfully intermixed with themes of love, endurance, and family. It is not an easy read because of its rich complexities, but one that should be taken seriously and read at leisure to learn and experience Italy and how its people suffered and survived World War II.

    Thank you to the author and publisher.


    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sep 29, Laura Wilkinson rated it liked it Shelves: kindle. Slow to start and I almost gave up but glad I persevered. Sep 03, Heidi rated it liked it. This book is really like reading four different book, each different in tone and style. The central character is Esmond who relocates to Florence just prior to the outbreak of World War II, working on the side of the fascist cause.

    As war progresses allegiances change and Esmond fights with the resistance in order to save himself, his loved one's and Florence. Jul 04, Craig rated it did not like it Shelves: given-up. On the cover the Times says this book is "utterly compelling". I would say utterly unreadable. I have surrendered after pages, where Fascism and pedophilia are treated as run of the mill events, historical facts are massacred and cliches and bad writing abound. A powerful story beautifully told.

    Vivid, faultless, engaging, earnest, profound, brilliant. I do not go out of the way to read historical fiction and both the blurb and cover meant clearly didn't have me as target audience since they drew me in not at all; I felt I'd have to force myself to read it. It was recommended to me as a book which succeeds in creating 'atmosphere' so I approached it almost as a text, 'for the purpose of learning something. Norman Douglas was based on a real and infamous character as well. Though this is almost a side note, his inclusion also illustrates how much has changed in the last 80 years.

    How different those days when a character like Norman Douglas could groom children openly seemingly treating them in a benign and kind manner all the while and meet with nothing more than the disapproval of his friends! But the story is aptly titled and Norman no more than a minor character, part of the environment, part of a scene that is perhaps the first shot in the engagement with the war and the Resistance that will become life for Edmond, Preston's main character. Novels such as these allow us to look at 'history' as the contemporaries of that era might have done.

    Here is a story in which communism, as yet not fully tried, is an ideal to fight for and British self-described fascists are presenting a seemingly benign ideal, lead by educated and cultured Brits. Just this week a British resident of Italy was telling me that in Italy fascism and Mussolini are taught in such a way that the Italians cannot forget.

    Perhaps though, given the tone of contemporary conversations, the Brits think themselves immune to fascism, remembering history through a prism in which they fought the Germans, in which they were the good guys. Preston says he hopes 'In Love and War can stand as a monument to the extraordinary bravery of the young men and women who wrested control of the story of modern Italy from the Fascists and the Nazis, to the lives they led, the deaths they suffered, to the history they forged through their actions.

    Jun 19, Candy Nichols added it. The story if historically correct gives an insight into living in Florence as an Englishman during the occupation of the Germans and the rising fashist state of Mussolini Featuring a young man who experiences are numerous I was intrigued by the tone of the book and the general feeling of the story is a man growing up I wont reveal any of the plots as it is better to read them and find out for yourself I was sad at the end though.

    May 12, Guy rated it really liked it. Absorbing and gripping.. Esmond was a tragic character but loved the backdrop of Florence during the war. Sad shit. Jun 06, Jen rated it really liked it Shelves: 20th-century , relationships , love , england , war. Like historical fiction? You may enjoy this book. Aug 28, Brad rated it really liked it.

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    Slow start and builds into a fantastic story of the resistance in Florence. Sep 28, Josephine rated it it was amazing. Beautiful description of Florence. Loved Esmond, his transformation, and Ada, their brave and tragic story. Good pace that builds rapidly towards the end. Jan 08, Patricia rated it liked it Shelves: dnf , DNF might go back though! Apr 01, Krystena rated it did not like it. This was chosen as a book club read. Didn't actually finish this book, read two chapters and gave up.

    Not for me.

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    Apr 02, Robert rated it it was amazing. A remarkable book, with that power of returning to your thoughts and your conversations that fine books possess. It is fascinating and emotionally engaging to follow Esmond's growth and suffering as the story moves through its phases. Of course, it made me want a map of Florence as I struggled to remember it from a stay 30 years ago.

    So I would advise other readers to have a map accessible. I strongly recommend it. Sadly, I am unworthy of a publisher's copy so I parted with hard earned taxed inc A remarkable book, with that power of returning to your thoughts and your conversations that fine books possess.

    Sadly, I am unworthy of a publisher's copy so I parted with hard earned taxed income and read it on a Kindle while on holiday in Majorca, surrounded by mountains which were an adequate mental substitute for rolling Tuscan hills. Apr 09, Sharon rated it did not like it.

    Really poorly written and full of wooden characters. Just very dull. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. What made you want to look up all's fair in love and war? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

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