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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
In the absorbing women’s novel, In The Shadow of The Apennines by Kimberly Sullivan, a woman finds inspiration from the story of a young Italian woman living during a tumultuous time. After a bitter divorce, Samantha buys a quaint cottage in Abruzzo, Italy hoping to leave her painful past behind. Still, the painful memories of her ex-husband’s betrayal follow her to her picturesque property nestled in the Apennine Mountains. She starts a blog about life in the region as a distraction from her fear of writing the book she has been putting off. The villagers shun the newcomer when they learn of her blog which ridicules Marsicano’s people and culture. Alienated from the surrounding community, Samantha immerses herself in the journals she finds in the cottage. She is drawn to the parallels between her and Elena, who lived through the devastating Pescina earthquake and WWI.
From the start, Kimberly Sullivan’s remarkable storytelling drew me in and had me hooked to the end. The characters are original, meticulously crafted, and memorable. The story is filled with delightful descriptions of Italian culture, the breathtaking Apennine Mountains, and details about the hardworking, courageous people who have called Abruzzo home for centuries. Through Sullivan’s masterful perspective, I was transported back to the beautiful region right before the start of WWI. The relationships between Elena and her lover as well as Samantha and those close to her are skillfully brought out in the novel. I found both women’s stories powerful; each was an emotional, hopeful journey about second beginnings, surviving crushing events, and moving forward. Readers will find themselves invested in the characters. In The Shadow of The Apennines is an unforgettable story about hope, finding the strength to face the past, and embracing new beginnings.