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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian

Title: The Light in the Ruins
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: July 9, 2013
Source: Netgalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're a mystery fan.
What's the Story?:

From "1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once their sanctuary becomes their prison.

1955: Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history.

Set against an exquisitely rendered Italian countryside, The Light in the Ruins unveils a breathtaking story of moral paradox, human frailty, and the mysterious ways of the heart."

My Two Cents:

Oh, Chris Bohjalian, your books always slay me! They always seem to take me on a roller-coaster of emotions, which I absolutely love.  "The Light in the Ruins" is a great historical-fiction with a strong element of mystery surrounding it. It takes place in Italy during WWII and in the decade following the end of the war.

As I said, this book has a mystery element to it surrounding the murders of some of the main characters. Bohjalian switches between showing us what the Rosati family's lives were like during WWII and then in 1955 when the murders take place. WWII historical fiction is still one of my very favorite time periods to read in and I really liked that you get to see both WWII and its aftermath in this book. We get to see the Rosati family's gorgeous villa during WWII when it goes from being a beautiful country home to a veritable prison as the town is occupied by the Nazis. We also see how the family is affected by the aftermath of the war. All of the members are very changed by what they saw and what they witnessed. We even get to hear from the murderer, which was incredibly intriguing to me.

One of the things that I like most about Bohjalian's books is that they always give you a really good sense of place. You can see the place that he's talking about and feel what it would feel like to be there. His books are always such a treat for this reason!

Overall, this is a great story that will keep you turning the pages quickly!



  1. I usually look for plain old historical rather than historical mystery, but you make this one sound irresistible!

  2. I love the cover on this one! And it sounds so good. WWII era and Italy both! This is on my TBR!

  3. I'm glad to see you really liked this one. I've been very curious about it, given the WWII storyline and the mystery. I still have to read Skeletons at the Feast, though!


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