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The Liberation is set at the end of the Second World War when Britain and America have just freed Italy from Nazi occupation. Not that the Liberation has brought any benefits to Caterina who is struggling to look after Luca, her younger, wayward brother and Nonno, her cantankerous, blind grandfather. Life is hard for everyone; the city of Naples has been so ruined by the bombing that there is little left to sustain the people left alive.

Luckily for Caterina she has inherited a talent for wood carving from her late father. On a journey to one of the local islands to sell the music boxes she makes, Caterina meets peacekeeper soldiers/special investigators, Englishman Harry Fielding and American Jake Parr. Initially they help Caterina to get her business established selling the music boxes but whilst they’re tracking down missing artefacts, she becomes the centre of their investigations when they find her father may have been involved in black market dealings. Despite promising to stay out of the investigations, Caterina goes off in search of the truth, not only to clear her father’s name but also to protect her family. This inevitably causes more trouble for everyone but also changes Caterina’s life irrevocably.

There’s a lot that’s good about The Liberation. The plot was fast paced and the setting was fascinating, which allowed for a lot of historical information to be put forward, making it an educational read in many ways. It’s always interesting to read about the effects the war had on other countries and cultures. I also liked that a lot of research had obviously been done by Furnivall to give the book a feeling of authenticity.

There were plenty of plot twists and turns and it was very atmospheric. My one complaint would be that I found some of the characters a little one-dimensional. Caterina was a good feisty protagonist, although she seemed to have a lot of internalised torment. This was understandable to a point, given the situation Caterina found herself in, but it’s something that I never enjoy – I found it slowed the plot down too much and sometimes felt as though it was there to pad out the word count.

Whilst it’s not up there with 2016’s best books, The Liberation definitely isn’t one of the worst books I’ve read this year and I imagine a lot of people will find it a gripping and thought-provoking read.

★★★

The Liberation was published by Simon & Schuster UK on 3 November 2016

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