It's the middle of WWII and Italian Jews have spread throughout Europe to try to escape the Germans and their own government. When Italy surrenders to the Allies, Italian Jews need to trek over the Alps to find freedom. Claudette Blum and her father have been separated from him mom and brothers but they must put that behind them to stay alive. They travel with other families and Italian soldiers that are also in danger. Claudette becomes smitten with one of the soldiers and he helps her and her father find places to hide in the countryside.
They meet many Italians and Italian Jews alike that want to fight against the Germans within Italy. One is Renzo, who takes on many identities to sabatoge the Germans and help hide Jews and the Italian resistance. His story is a tragic one as he's fought in a previous conflict and can't quite move past that.
I don't think I've read a book about Italy during WWII in the past and there were some quite educational parts of the book. There are also a lot of characters, too many. I had problems throughout the book keeping track of which character was which, which impacted my ability to completely enjoy the novel.
I found the last two paragraphs of the book the most meaningful. They explained that Hitler himself never fired a gun during the entire war. "One hollow, hateful little man. One last awful thought: all the harm he ever did was done for him by others."
First Line: "This is what everyone would remember about his mother: her home was immaculate."