Thoroughly detailed scenes and a vast assortment of distinctive characters makes UNDER A SARDINIAN SKY highly engaging. Sara Alexander has created a story filled with emotional issues that are very true-to-life, and I was deeply drawn into the lives of individuals who came alive because of the author’s perceptive writing. I may not have ever been anywhere like the island of Sardinia, but after reading Ms. Alexander’s debut story, I certainly feel as though I am well acquainted with its past citizens plus many of their local traditions.
After her aunt died, Mina decides it is time to learn about a part of her family’s history that has always remained unspoken. Since she writes travel articles for a newspaper, she is going to use some of her skills to hopefully discover the truth concerning Carmela Chirigoni, another aunt who was Italian and lived on the island of Sardinia. Mina knows little about her relative except for the fact the woman went missing back in the 1950’s.
With World War II having been over for several years, those living on the picturesque island are looking forward to better times. Carmela is from a farming family plus she makes fashionable clothing for others. She has been asked to wed a man who could one day be very rich, but she is not too fond of behavior at times. During a big fiesta in her hometown, she comes in contact with an American soldier from a nearby base. They keep meeting at different places, and she ends up becoming an interpreter for Lt. Joe Kavanagh as she speaks some English. This decision will change many lives forever.
While reading UNDER A SARDINIAN SKY, I got a glimpse into what could have easily occurred to someone living in a region once greatly affected by war. Carmela is a spirited yet respectful daughter who plans to obey the wishes of her family, but she dreams of seeing other places and having a rewarding marriage. Her life may be shaped by the wishes of someone else, but it does not stop her thinking about improbable possibilities. People trying to get back to normal after a huge war can find themselves still being influenced by outside forces for years, and Carmela meeting American soldiers deeply changes how she envisions her future. There are many times when her inner feelings battle, as she knows what path should be followed but often would rather not. Her thoughts about her intended husband causes many worries, while sentiments connected to a particular American soldier double her uncertainties. Sara Alexander gives much insight into what leads to the reactions of her characters, thus letting me come to really know these individuals.
The story is told because Mina wants to uncover what actually happened to her aunt, and the author skillfully let me know all the facts through colorful historical descriptions. Italian customs are depicted with much fanfare, while the daily lives of the island inhabitants are also vividly portrayed. From meals to parties to work, I got a sense of what various people experienced while living through these events. Food preparation is especially interesting and often lively. The images visually conveyed throughout UNDER A SARDINIAN SKY cause enthrallment and pure delight.
I voluntarily reviewed the book via NetGalley, and all comments are my honest opinion
Releases: April 25, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars