Under a Sardinian Sky is Sara Alexander’s debut novel, however she’s no stranger to the creative arts … as Eva Alexander she has an impressive acting resume including appearing in Dr Who and Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows.
Sara based fictional town Simius on her mother’s home town. It was clear to me, as a reader, that Sara has personal experience of the Sardinian landscape, the culture and the people. This world is very authentic.
With a further two book deal, I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HQ; First edition (20 April 2017)
Sometimes a family’s deepest silences hide the most powerful secrets.
For Mina, a London-based travel writer, the enigmatic silence surrounding her aunt Carmela has become a personal obsession.
Carmela disappeared from her Italian hometown long ago and is mentioned only in fragments and whispers. Mina has resisted prying, respectful of her family’s Sardinian reserve. But now, with her mother battling cancer, it’s time to learn the truth.
In 1952, Simius is a busy Sardinian town surrounded by fertile farms and orchards. Carmela Chirigoni, a farmer’s daughter and talented seamstress, is engaged to Franco, son of the area’s wealthiest family. Everyone agrees it’s a good match. But Carmela’s growing doubts about Franco’s possessiveness are magnified when she meets Captain Joe Kavanagh.
Joe, an American officer stationed at a local army base, is charismatic, intelligent, and married. Hired as his interpreter, Carmela resolves to ignore her feelings, knowing that any future together must bring upheaval and heartache to both families.
As Mina follows the threads of Carmela’s life to uncover her fate, she will discover a past still deeply alive in the present, revealing a story of hope, sacrifice, and extraordinary love.
The prologue in London 2007 is a poignant family time which brings to light Mina’s obsession about the mystery of missing aunt Carmela. Then we’re taken back to 1952 on the Assumption Day fiesta in the Sardinian town of Simius. Despite GI’s arriving 8 years ago when they liberated the town, the community have little respect for them considering the soldiers rude (and racist!). Carmela is watching the dancers, observing her seamstress skill in their costumes before being made to stand in for one of the dancers. Running away to get changed down an alleyway, a GI follows her believing she may be in danger and fiancee Franco also turns up. The scene is set …
I didn’t like Franco from the beginning. Arrogant and possessive, I just knew that Carmela would certainly lose her passion, self belief and her wanderlust with him as a husband. He made me feel afraid (which was only heightened after one particular scene). One relationship I did enjoy is that with Carmela and sister Piera. It was (mostly) honest and open and I felt Carmela’s sadness that once she was married to Franco, she would feel as if something was missing from not being able to be so close to Piera. I have to be honest and share that it took me over half of the story to have an emotional connection with Carmela. Obviously this is subjective although I have no idea why I didn’t connect before. All of a sudden it was there though, deepening my feelings. After that I cried. More than once! I felt so desolate at one point and yet at another brimming with hope and possibility. Conflict comes from not just Franco and Joe but Agnes too (something she does has such a profound effect on lives).
Jewish immigrants from London, the Curzon family, holiday in the town every summer. They added even more interest to the story and have an important part to play in the future.
Sara Alexander’s writing is beautiful – I loved her use of figurative language – and she brings everything to life with such vibrancy. The landscape, working the land, Yolanda’s dressmaking studio, Antonio and his bar, the festivals and the military base hospital all felt very real. The Sardinian culture fascinated me – not just the people themselves but the food they eat and the way they lived their lives.
My favourite quote:
The storyteller is the weaver; the listener can choose how they believe.
Under a Sardinian Sky is a story of loyalty, family obligation, secrecy and love (toxic and unattainable). You don’t need to travel any further than your own home for new experiences and new landscapes! Whether you’re a romance reader or historical fiction, Under a Sardinian Sky is a recommended read from me.
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Sara Alexander has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television industries, including roles in much loved productions such as Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Doctor Who, and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow.
Growing up in North West London, Sara Alexander attended Hampstead Comprehensive School, before going on to graduate the University of Bristol with a BA honours in Theatre, Film & Television, and Drama Studio London with a postgraduate diploma in acting. She now returns to her Sardinian routes through the pages of her debut novel Under a Sardinian Sky.
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