The Chapel at the Edge of the World

The Chapel at the Edge of the World

Book - 2009
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Emilio and Rosa are childhood sweethearts, engaged to be married. But it is 1942 and the war has taken Emilio far from Italy, to a tiny Orkney island where he is a POW. Rosa must wait for him to return and help her mother run the family hotel on the shores of Lake Como, in Italy.

Feeling increasingly frustrated with his situation, Emilio is inspired by the idea of building a chapel on the barren island. The prisoners band together to create an extraordinary building out of little more than salvaged odds and ends and homemade paints. Whilst Emilio's chapel will remain long after the POW camp has been left to the sheep, will his love for Rosa survive the hardships of war and separation? For Rosa is no longer the girl that he left behind. She is being drawn further into the Italian resistance movement and closer to danger, as friendships and allegiances are ever complicated by the war.

Human perseverance and resilience are at the heart of this strong debut and the small Italian chapel remains, as it does in reality, as a symbol of these qualities.
Publisher: London : John Murray, c2009.
ISBN: 9781848541498
Branch Call Number: FICTION MCK


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Mar 10, 2015

A mostly gentle view of being an Italian POW of the British in WW II, first in the N. African desert, and then at the other extreme, in the Orkney Islands. Focuses on two friends, calm painter Emilio and Bertoldo, who doesn't know what to do with his anger at how his life has turned out. Emilio shares chapters with his fiance Rosa, whom he has known since childhood, and whose war is very different from his. Since the prologue tells us they marry, that removes one possible source of tension from the story. Still, the frustration between the friends, between the captors and the POWs, and the growing danger the Germans bring to Rosa and her family back home, provide enough tension to keep the story going. Emilio enlists most of the men in building a Catholic chapel out of bits of construction scrap in their spare time, a historical detail which remains to this day and inspired this first novel.

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