“In this book, fictional character Alessandro Giuliani tells a powerful tale about his experiences as a young man, as a soldier in the Great War―World War I, and as a man emotionally and physically spent after the war ends. Alessandro recalls the horrors of war both physically and emotionally. He recounts in countless ways the cost of war in human lives, severed relationships, personal sacrifices, deprivation, environmental destruction, and financial ruin. Like a cat with nine lives, Alessandro kept surviving situations that seemed implausible to live through. As the war comes to a close, heartbroken, physically and emotionally spent, Alessandro makes his way to Rome to begin putting his life back together.
This 880 page story is filled with brutality, yet it’s also filled with love, friendship, courage, and hope. The author has a masterful way with words. That being said, he used hundreds of pages, via Alessandro’s thoughts and conversations to others, most particularly to Nicolo, to expound on subjects that had little to do with the story. These digressions lengthen the story considerably and make readers have to wade through inconsequential “stuff” to keep with the story.
Although I liked this story, it was in dire need of an editor with a red pencil. It felt like the author wanted to make this an epic story of grand proportion, but hadn’t enough substance to do so. Ramblings took over where the plot lagged. Unusual for me, I was ever so glad to have this story finally come to an end. I think the story would have been stronger starting with Chapter 2---omitting Alessandro as an elderly man: no cable car journey, no trekking through the countryside, and no Nicolo.
Joen W wrote this review Thursday, September 5, 2013.