Synopsis

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

My review

This is a beautifully written, lively, inspiring children’s story. The opening is wonderful, a quick summary of the events leading up to the Second World War from a twelve-year-old’s point of view. The key figures include Spitler and Muscle-weany. We later get a more official version of events which is very clearly explained, without bogging the young reader down in detail.

Leo is an Irish boy who’s caught in Italy at just the wrong time. His Anglo-American mother has travelled there to learn about educating young people from Maria Montessori. This is particularly important to her as Ruby, Leo’s young sister, suffers from cerebral palsy. As bright as a button, she’s restricted by her physical difficulties. The Nazis are advancing and the Leo’s mother is taken away. Fortunately the children had snuck off for a midnight feast in the barn and so escape capture. Then begins their perilous and arduous journey to Rome to find Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Leo’s Aunt Delia had told him what to do should he ever find himself in danger. Leo uses his sharp wits, engaging personality and resourcefulness to make the trip safely with his sister. But when he arrives, his work is far from over.

This story is perfect for children, but older readers can enjoy it too. We have two really likeable characters in Leo and Ruby. There’s excitement and humour, mystery and danger to thrill the audience, but not terrify them. Leo finds himself in sticky predicaments but he always finds a way out, and we know he will. It’s just a question of how.

The story is based on real events. Patricia Murphy weaves fact and fiction together in a marvellous way to bring the brave actions of Hugh O’Flaherty to life for us through the fictional Leo. However, as the author says, there were many children who were incredibly brave during the war and this novel is to celebrate them. War brings out the worst in people, but also the best. Loyal, lovable Leo embodies the latter.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leos-War-1943-1944-Patricia-Murphy/dp/1781998159/

https://www.bookdepository.com/Leos-War-Patricia-Murphy/9781781998151

https://poolbeg.com/home/680-leo-s-war.html

https://www.easons.com/leos-diary-patricia-murphy-9781781998151

 

Author Bio

Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

 

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com

Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy

Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/

 

Giveaway to win a £30 Amazon Gift Voucher (Open to UK Only)

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veniceVenice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna is a fast-moving, atmospheric romance. Set in eighteenth century Italy, we meet Marietta Gatti who is having rather a tough time of things. Her husband, Dario, is an obnoxious, unfaithful bully and as for his mother, well, she’s beyond awful. When Dario dies prematurely, Marietta is thrown out by mum-in-law and returns from Verona to her parents in Italy but finds that her father has been murdered and someone unpleasant is after her. But fortunately there’s Nico so she’s not totally alone.

This is an unusual story. As well as a bevy of trials for our heroine to get through, we have the heady atmosphere of carnival time in Venice, plus devil worshipping and also a blind hero. The author is particularly good at depicting characters. We really get into their shoes and see how their minds work. Venice is beautifully portrayed and we can imagine ourselves there in this almost magical world.

The story is absorbing and it’s easy to get lost in it. Elizabeth McKenna writes with a keen eye for detail but never goes over the top with it. The story never wallows and neither do our characters. There’s energy and optimism, despite the difficult circumstances the find themselves in. This is an enjoyable historical romance/mystery that makes for a pleasant, interesting read.

You can buy it on Amazon.com here.

About the author

elizmcElizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel, Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

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