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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