Though history is being written daily, the past continues to fascinate us. Obsessed with uncovering the hidden stories of people who risked their lives to save others, events that changed the course of history, plots that deceived the greatest of enemies, and the places that housed these incredible moments, it’s no wonder authors keep finding inspiration to write. Kristy Cambron is one such author. Taking readers on an intricate journey between the past and present, her latest book, The Italian Ballerina, is an incredible story of loss, redemption, sacrifice, love, and faith.
Rome 1943: Indiana native Courtney Coleman doesn’t believe he’s worthy of a happy ending. Convinced it’s better to leave than stay, he enlists in the army and becomes a medic. Caught in the crossfire as the Nazis clear the Jewish ghetto, Court makes a hasty decision that could cost him his life. Is one little girl’s life worth disobeying orders and risking everything?
“You can’t keep living for yourself, Court. Once you figure out what that means, you’ll finally find home . . .”~ Kristy Cambron
British ballerina Julia Bradbury has dreamed of dancing on the stage of La Scala in Rome since she was a child; however, when the Nazi Regime takes control of the Eternal City, Julia must take refuge in a hospital on Tiber Island until it is safe to return home. Wanting to do her part in the war effort, Julia works alongside the nurses and doctors to save Jewish refugees under the guise of a fictional disease called Syndrome K. Walking on a fine line between life and death, Julia’s life is put at greater risk when two Allied medics arrive at the hospital with a little girl who refuses to tell them her name. Will they be able to hide from the Nazis and reunite the girl with her family, or will their enemies learn their secrets before they can escape?
“Il Morbo di K—Syndrome K—is a farce. An invention of this hospital. And the quarantine, a ruse to support it… There is no sickness here beyond the plague of being born a Jew.”~ Kristy Cambron
Present Day: Returning to her childhood home after losing her grandfather, Delaney’s life isn’t what she’d hoped it would be. Unclear of what her future holds, she struggles to figure out what’s next; however, when an Italian woman declares ownership of a family possession, Del finds herself on a plane to Rome to learn about her grandfather’s untold past. Will Rome capture Delaney’s heart like it has so many others, or will the past stop her from embracing a future almost within reach?
“Rome gets under your skin when you’re not looking. And then it goes deeper—into your heart—and never leaves.”~ Kristy Cambron
The Italian Ballerina is an excellent novel! Weaving multiple storylines into a fabulous narrative, it took time to get used to the jumps; nevertheless, by the second half, I was completely absorbed and impatient to see how the picture would come together. Authentic, raw, and full of incredible history, I loved Kristy Cambron’s writing style and how she incorporated a faith element into the story that didn’t feel forced. Though I thought this would be a predictable read, the ending took me by complete surprise and filled me with an unexpected flood of emotion.
I love what Kristy writes in the author’s note at the end of the book: “From AJ Nelson’s pursuit to save others, Court Coleman’s finding faith and restoration within his own heart, Julia Bradbury’s longing for deeper meaning to her calling, and Delaney and Matteo’s journey to uncover truth for the grown Calla so many years later . . . All show the impact just one life can have on the lives—and faith journeys—of so many others. In this way history is powerful. To remember. To learn. To see and understand the human experience through another’s lens.“
Historical fiction lovers will fall head over heels for The Italian Ballerina! It’s a World War II novel you don’t want to miss!
*Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*