Our rooms say a lot about us. We live in them, day in and day out, and don’t consider that they never stay exactly the same. But every once in a while, over the past years of my daughter’s life, I have taken photos of her room and the objects in it. When I look back, I smile at the objects that change on her shelves and walls as she moved from a toddler to a little girl, to teenager. The setting tells the story of the person who lives there.
Today, as my debut novel, Under the Light of the Italian Moon, launches, I decided to do it for myself. To take a snapshot of a moment in time that can never be repeated, because life will evolve from here and the feelings and things that surround me now will never be exactly like this.
My office in London is where I finished the novel. After our French foreign exchange student moved out, I took it over. On the walls hang a poster of the epic Italian movie, La Dolce Vita and a poster of the 1930s Revlon ad campaign Fire & Ice. I used to manage the brand in Europe, Middle East and Africa and I will always adore it. An antique French gilded mirror reflects what’s on my pinboard: A prayer card of the Madonna, a rosary, a timeline of events during the lead up to World War II in Italy, bookshops I dream of being in, reminders to be patient and a strip of photo booth pictures of me, my husband and daughter from when she was tiny and we lived in Chicago. The final wall holds images of the Italian women in my family–my “why” for writing my novel. To remember the women.
On the shelves are books– and a lot of them. Books about the craft like Steven King’s On Writing. Historical books about fascism and WWII. Fiction by Bassani, Moravia, Calvino and modern-day WWII novels. The shelves are interspersed with images of strong women in my family, vintage Vogue covers and Audrey Hepburn prints.
Out the window from the day bed, I can see Battersea Power station in London and, at night, I can view the moon over the rooftops. We rarely have guests, especially now, so the bed is for lounging when sitting at the desk gets to be too much.
When I close the door to this office, I am not in London. My laptop opens and I am in Italy, 1930s and 40s. I transported to a world filled with beauty and pain. Many tears have been shed on this seat as I go through the emotions of my characters. Much pride has been felt when I look to my left and see the women of my family staring back at me as I dare to attempt to tell the stories of their lives, woven together with fiction.
I’m certain the room and its contents will shift again in the next few weeks. It will change as this next phase in my life begins. I am a novelist now, from this day forward. What will come next, I don’t know. But, it is a reminder to step back, embrace the moment and take it all in.
About the Book
Genre: Historical fiction, women’s fiction, biographical fiction
Date to be Published: 8th March 2021
Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
A promise keeps them apart until World War II threatens to destroy their love forever
Fonzaso Italy, between two wars
Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.
When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.
As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…
A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.
Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into World War II.
About the Author