The garden of angels
Book - 2021
Nico Uccello's grandfather is dying, and from his deathbed he gives Nico an unwelcome gift: a yellowing manuscript, containing a story Nico must keep secret from his father. Nico loves his grandfather, but as the heart-breaking tale of what really happened in Nazi-occupied Venice of 1943 unfolds, he begins to wonder if he ever knew him at all ...
Hewson, author of the Nic Costa series, jumps back and forth in time to tell the story of the Uccello family, celebrated Venetian weavers of fine velvet, and what happened to them in 1943 during the German occupation. Nico Uccello is a callow 15-year-old when his grandfather Paolo, close to death, shares with him a typed manuscript describing Paolo's role in hiding two Jewish partisans, brother and sister Vanni and Mika, in the family home, the Palazzo Colombina. Then 18, Paolo would prefer to stay out of politics altogether, focusing only on saving the family business, in free fall after the death of his parents, but he agrees to the request of a priest to provide a hideout for the partisans. Moving between the story of Paolo's coming-of-age, including his attraction to Vanni, and those of various other Venetians during the war, particularly notorious Jew hunter Salvatore Bruno, Hewson displays the gifts that distinguish the Costa series: the ability to bring texture and humanity to multiple characters and to explore significant moments in history through the microcosm of those characters' lives. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
At the start of this multigenerational coming-of-age tale from Hewson (the Nic Costa series), Paolo Uccello, the dying patriarch of the House of Uccello, renowned Italian fabric weavers, has a story to tell his 15-year-old grandson, Nico, of his youth in Nazi-occupied Venice. Flashback to 1943. Paolo, then 18 and the newly orphaned owner of the failing family business, agrees to shelter 21-year-old Giovanni "Vanni" and 23-year-old Micaela "Mika" Artom, Jewish brother and sister partisans on the run from the Gestapo. Paolo in return asks for their help to finish weaving a commission for an important client arriving for a large gathering of Nazi VIPs. When Mika learns the client is Salvator Bruno, the infamous "Jew hunter" responsible for her own parents' deaths, she makes contact with local Resistance fighters and joins their mission to attack the celebration. Paulo finds himself emotionally and physically drawn to Vanni and will go to extraordinary lengths to protect him. A late-page revelation, meanwhile, will have readers gasping in surprise, and Hewson expertly balances tense action and thoughtful emotion. Fans of character-driven WWII thrillers will want to check this out. Agent: Helen Heller, Helen Heller Agency. (Apr.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.
At his beloved Nonno Paolo's deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.
The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.
When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .
Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.
Nico Uccello’s grandfather is dying, and from his deathbed he gives Nico an unwelcome gift: a yellowing manuscript, containing a story Nico must keep secret from his father. Nico loves his grandfather, but as the heart-breaking tale of what really happened in Nazi-occupied Venice of 1943 unfolds, he begins to wonder if he ever knew him at all …