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Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby

Newby’s account of his imprisonment in an Italian orphanage with various nationalities of prisoners including the British who insisted on retaining obdurately, but in miniature, the British class system is a vignette in itself. One of the frequently passing girls on a bicycle became his wife but then Newby moves into the mountain forests of the Apennines as a prisoner on the run and the, at times  hilarious, yet never less than wholehearted support from the local peasantry, including his future wife, is movingly if at times over-faithfully described. In the face of death threats from the Germans the locals valiantly risk their lives time and again. They got little thanks for it after the war, but Newby did them proud with this tribute book, perhaps one of the best of his oeuvre. I hope I do not over-summarise if I say we all enjoyed it in our own way.

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