cover image Courage, My Love

Courage, My Love

Kristin Beck. Berkley, $17 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-10156-8

Beck debuts with a promising dive into the lives of two Italian women who resisted the Nazi occupation of Rome. Chapters alternate between Francesca, a polio survivor who joins the resistance and ascends to its highest ranks after German soldiers kidnap her fiancé, and Lucia, a young mother whose anti-Fascist husband left her under mysterious circumstances five years before. Lucia must first overcome her family’s Fascist leanings, and finds the courage to join the resistance following the capture and killing of a Jewish friend. Though Francesca and Lucia are strangers at first, they find common ground in the resistance. Driven by this strength, they become spies and assassins, fueled by their shared belief that “anger alone isn’t enough... we have to act.” Together, they organize a band within the resistance that is instrumental to freeing Rome from its German captors. Unfortunately, the backdrop of war often stands in for deeper characterization, with the characters serving as symbols of feminist grit and determination rather than rounded wholes. It’s certainly rousing, but it doesn’t rise to the top ranks of the current trend of WWII fiction featuring strong women protagonists. (Apr.)