cover image Eternal


Lisa Scottoline. Putnam, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-0-525-53976-6

Scottoline’s admirable foray into historical fiction (after her Rosato & Associates series) visits pre-WWII Italy during Mussolini’s rise to power as three teenage friends navigate a love triangle. Elisabetta D’Orfeo works at a restaurant to support her alcoholic father. Marco Terrizzi, the son of a bar owner, begins his rise in the Fascist government, using his wit and charm to hide the secret of his learning disability and inability to read. Sandro Simone, a brilliant student, lives in Rome’s Jewish quarter with his obstetrician mother and lawyer father, Massimo. Sandro’s parents want him to date a Jewish girl, but he is determined to court Elisabetta, plans that are put to a halt by Mussolini’s racial laws barring relationships between Jews and non-Jews. Elisabetta succumbs to Marco’s charms, but their relationship is derailed after Marco falsely takes credit for a notebook left for her by Sandro to encourage her writing. As the Nazis occupy Rome, threatening to arrest and deport Jewish residents, the Simones are stripped of their livelihoods. Sandro and Massimo are eventually rounded up by the Nazis, and Marco and Elisabetta go to increasingly dangerous lengths to try to rescue them. While the dialogue is a bit wooden at times, Scottoline expertly brings historical events to life. Fans of WWII fiction will be drawn to this immersive, emotional novel. Agent: Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)